S-5 sinking

From PigBoats.COM

The civilian steamer SS Alanthus standing by the stricken S-5, September 3, 1920. The tip of the S-5's stern with her stern diving planes can just be seen to the left of the ship. The S-5's crew were in a tenuous position. A heavier sea state could have easily flooded the sub through the hole that they had spent hours drilling and cutting. Had that happened they would have all perished. They were blessed with calm weather during those three days of danger.

Photo NH 57596 courtesy of NHHC.

Another view of Alanthus during the rescue operation. S-5's tern is visible to the right. The Alanthus' crew, along with the crew of the SS General G.W. Goethals (from which this picture was taken) worked feverishly to help enlarge the hole cut in the submarine's stern. Unfortunately, almost no power equipment was onboard either ship, and the hole took intensive hand labor to enlarge enough to evacuate the crew.

Photo NH 57595 courtesy of NHHC.

This photo was likely taken some time on September 3, 1920 when the Navy finally arrived on the scene. By this time the crew had been successfully evacuated from the boat, and the Navy was now attempting to tow the boat closer to shore and shallower water where a salvage attempt was to be made. The name of the tug tied up to the stern of S-5 is unknown, but the ship in the background is the USS Ohio (BB-12). The Navy crews managed to get a tow line around the S-5, and the Ohio began the slow process of pulling the boat into shallower water. They didn't make it. The increasing sea state and the force of the tow flooded the boat through the hole and she sank to the bottom 15 nautical miles off Cape May, New Jersey. Subsequent salvage efforts were stymied, and the Navy abandoned the wreck in November 1920.

Photo NH 41808 courtesy of NHHC.

In July 2001 a NOAA vessel was in the area conducting an oceanographic survey. They used the opportunity to look for the S-5's wreck. They obtained this side scan sonar image of the wreck site. This survey has been followed up by several dives to the wreck site, which after the towing efforts by the Ohio was in only about 150 feet of water. See the videos below.

Photo courtesy of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency.

These two videos give a good overview of the accident and subsequent dives to the wreck. Over the years the superstructure has all corroded away along with the conning tower fairwater. Several scenes from the second video show a ribbed barrel-like object on top of the wreck. That is the conning tower itself, now exposed with the vanishing of the fairwater and bridge that formerly surrounded it. It also appears as if the 4"/50 caliber Mk 9 deck gun was removed at some point during the salvage efforts in 1920.

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