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Michael R Gargano

Michael R Gargano Sitting Atop The First US Snorkel
Michael R Gargano Sitting Atop The First US Snorkel
The First US Snorkel Sea Trials Aug 1945
The First US Snorkel Sea Trials Aug 1945

The man sitting on the snorkel exhaust mast is Michael R Gargano, Signalman 2nd Class while the submarine USS R-6 (SS-83) was at Key West, Fla. in August 1945. The R-6 was the first and last submarine of Michael Gargano. He had been on a Destroyer Escort through most of World War II. He volunteered for submarines near the wars end was assigned to the R-6. After the war he worked on subs for General Electric including many years at Electric Boat in Groton.

Above is seen Gargano sitting on the USS R-6 snorkel mast in August 1945. The R-6 was chosen to test some of the early results of the US snorkel. The snorkel, first invented by the Dutch, was taken by the Germans after the invasion of Holland. The Dutch had offered the snorkel to the US Navy but they turned it down. When it was realized that the Germans were employing a snorkel late in the war the US took up the challenge to have one of their own.

The head valve of the snorkel, where air is drawn in, can be seen above Gargano's head. Mast is permanently affixed to the Starboard side of the telescoping radio mast housing. All it had to do was prove the concept of running the engines while submerged.

To the left can be seen the R-6's Commissioning Pennent flying in the wind.

The USS Irex was the first US Submarine with a fully operational snorkel.


The short paper seen below was written by Submarine Historian Jim Christley before the existence of these photos were known.

"The R-6 was selected and the snorkel was fitted in Portsmouth during the period 10 April to 20 May 1945. The system was tested and provided information on the effects of the snorkel on personnel and equipment. Piping was installed on the main deck for simplicity and the snorkel mast was fixed in an upright position. R-6 took the system to Florida in August 1945 for testing in an ASW setting. The boat operated for three days in southern waters (out of Ft. Lauderdale) during the period 3 to 25 August 1945 and three major engine casualties were reported. However it is unknown whether these were due to the snorkel or were due to other factors such as age and maintenance. The system’s components were removed prior to the decommissioning of the boat in September 1945.

The next testing phase was held aboard the USS Sirago (SS-485) [Note: this is not the Odax (SS-484)] immediately after her commissioning (Commissioning was on 10 September 1945). Preliminary tests took place at Portsmouth during the period 11 to 13 September 1945. The tests were to determine if the design was adequate and the effect of snorkeling on diesel engines and personnel.

{Sirago had four Fairbanks Morse 10 cylinder D38 8-1/8 engines numbered 848587 through 848590. Only one engine was fitted with the exhaust ducting for testing, number 848588}

The tests on 11 September tested the machinery, calibration of the measurement equipment and personnel orientation. Engine standardization runs were carried out on the 12th. These included runs at snorkel depth (alongside) to determine the effect of the varying back pressure on engine speed and loading. On the 13th runs were made which simulated wave action on the (float type) head valve cycling. The system was dismantled starting on 17 September.

Electric Boat Company had been designing their own snorkel system. They asked the Navy to provide the data that had been compiled during the testing of R-6 and Sirago. The company proposed on 12 June 1945 that a system be put aboard either Clamagore (SS-343) or Cobbler (SS-344). The Navy Inspector of Shipbuilding selected Clamagore. However, in Electric Boat’s opinion the Clamagore was too close to completion and pushed for the Cobbler in a test plan dated 19 June 1945. BuShips approved the plan on 4 July 1945. The test was not a full snorkel system but a pressure variation test using just the power operated head valve. The head valve was to be fastened to a plate which was then mounted on the after engine room hatch. However, in the builder’s underway trials (prior to the head valve testing) the lube oil systems of the four main engines had problems and the testing was delayed. Electric Boat withdrew from further snorkel design for fleet submarines.

The Irex (SS-482) received the first 'full up' snorkel system in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard starting in December 1946. The system was evaluated in extensive testing during the period July 1947 to February 1948. She was then the first US submarine to become operational with a snorkel."

The above by Jim Christley

Jim Christley wrote the above from anecdotal information and records, never having seen these photos. As can be seen in photos on this sites' 'R-Boats' page, that the piping was not installed on the deck but under it. Jim was pleased to be in receipt of this information. To see more photos of the R-6 and snorkel click on R-Boats in the menu.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father, Michael R Gargano, served on the R-6 and is in that Family's Private Photo Album.

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