O-12

From PigBoats.COM

O-12 Electrical Division, aka the "E-Div". The photo is reported to be circa 1917 but the O-12 was not in commission yet. Being commissioned on October 19, 1918. The photo is more likely to have been taken after the submarine arrival in Coco Solo, Panama soon after commissioning. The O-12 was decommissioned on June 17, 1924.

There are additional crew in the background at the left side of the photo. Note the O-12's rectangular conning tower deadlight windows, distinctive of the Lake design.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

O-12 pierside for a crew photo opportunity, possibly at Coco Solo, Panama, circa 1921. There are numerous civilians on the pier, and this is probably a Navy Day celebration or some sort of holiday. The duty officer is standing aft by the fairwater chatting with a woman visitor. He is wearing a sidearm and carrying an overcoat. Both the deck gun and the torpedo loading skid are in the raised position.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Closeup #1 from the photo above. The men at left are Chief Petty Officers. The first one is a Gunner's Mate. In those days the rate of Torpedoman did not yet exist so some Gunner's Mates held a distinguishing specialty of Torpedoman. Thus this sailor's rate would be Gunner's Mate (Torpedo).

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Closeup #2 showing the remainder of the men topside. These are all 1st Class Petty Officers and below. All are in dress whites, wearing the traditional black silk neckerchief, also known as the "Mk 1 Mod 0 Greasy Snake".

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Closeup #3 with the Duty Officer and the female visitor. Unusual he seems to be wearing a sidearm the holster can be seen on his right hip. Details of the torpedo loading skid and the raised 3"/23 caliber gun can be seen.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Another O-12 crew photo taken at the same time, this one being less formal in nature, and it has the officer's in front. A lapstrake dingy is lashed to the side of the fairwater. On the back of the photo are a list of names. There are only 24 names and there are 33 men shown in the photo. The names are: Morris, Swango, Satterfield, Dooley, Longfield, Lyons, White, Coody, Burdick, Bingo, Clark, Merrill, Linder, Bower, Cherry, Packard, Karp, Weigh, Thomas, McCarthy, Burton, Beckler, Ambroio, & Elliot.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Closeups of the 2nd O-12 crew photo.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

O-12 was decommissioned June 17, 1924 and was placed in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard League Island facility. The ex-O-12 is shown here in her decommissioned state, moored with other O-class submarines and alongside what is most likely the monitors ex-Tonopah or ex-Cheyenne. Both of those ships had been used as submarine tenders.

Struck from the Naval Register 29 July 1930, her ownership was transferred to the United States Shipping Board, who then leased her to Lake & Danenhower, Inc. for conversion and use on the civilian Wilkins-Ellsworth Arctic Expedition. Simon Lake (her original builder) de-militarized her and made extensive modifications to the vessel to enable her to operate under the Arctic ice pack.

After use by Lake and Dannenhower, Inc., of Bridgeport, Conn., for the Wilkins-Ellsworth Arctic Expedition, during which the submarine bore the name "NAUTILUS," O-12 was returned to the Navy Department. She was sunk 20 November 1931 in a Norwegian fjord.

Photo provided by MMCM(SS) Rick Larson, USN (Ret.)

The former O-12 in drydock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on December 12, 1930, undergoing conversion for the Wilkins arctic expedition. She would be renamed Nautilus. At this point the Navy ostensibly retained ownership of the boat, leasing her to Lake & Danenhower, Inc. for the expedition. Simon Lake and Sloan Danenhower were allowed to make any modifications necessary to the boat, as it was understood that she would never return to naval service. In this photo Lake employees are working topside, having removed the conning tower fairwater, periscopes, and masts, leaving only the bridge access trunk. An extensive superstructure would be built above the main deck. Her torpedo room was being converted into a diver lockout chamber, a scientific instrument "moon pool", and laboratory. The rest of the boat would get refurbishment as well.

Original photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman.

A photo of the ex-O-12, now renamed Nautilus, from the starboard side, submerging on a trial run after the completion of the Arctic conversion work, May 15, 1931. Her conning tower fairwater has been completely removed and an extensive white painted superstructure built atop the already existing superstructure. The small topside structures were all retractable and the intention was for the Nautilus to slide in under the icepack, running along under the ice like a reverse sled, popping up to the surface when a gap in the pack was encountered.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

This from the port side shows Nautilus after the completion of the Arctic conversion work, May 25, 1931. She had an all-civilian crew, captained by Sloan Danenhower, a former U.S. Navy officer and associate of Simon Lake. The newly built ice sled superstructure can be seen atop the former main deck line.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

A view of the Nautilus underway at sea in 1931, running alongside a Navy ship. The Wilkins-Ellsworth Arctic Expedition that she was converted for gathered some valuable data on the Arctic environment, but overall it was largely a failure, mostly due to the Nautilus' poor mechanical condition. They struggled with breakdowns during the Arctic voyage, greatly restricting the amount of time that the boat actually submerged. The boat was also unsuccessful in sliding under the ice as it was not understood at the time that the ice pack is not flat underneath like a frozen lake is.

The boat was sailed to a fjord near Bergen, Norway and its ownership was returned to the Navy. On November 20, 1931 it was scuttled in 1,138 feet (347 m) of water in the fjord and forgotten. Her wreck was rediscovered in 1981.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Return to the O-class page | Return to the Submarine Classes page

Page created by:
Ric Hedman & David Johnston
1999 - 2023 - PigBoats.COM©
Mountlake Terrace, WA, Norfolk, VA
webmaster at pigboats dot com