US SUBMARINES 1900-35
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR JIM CHRISTLEY retired from the US Navy in 1982 as a senior chief petty officer having served on seven submarines ranging from diesel to nuclear fast attacks to ballistic missile boats. A student of US submarine technical history, he has written numerous articles and a book on the subject in addition to providing technical illustrations to several notable books on submarine design and history. Jim is a resident of Lisbon, Connecticut.
NEW VANGUARD • 175
US SUBMARINES PETER BULL graduated from art college in 1979 and has worked as a freelance illustrator for over 25 years. He has created both traditional and digital art for publishers worldwide, and also runs the Peter Bull Art Studio, based in East Sussex, UK, which he founded in 1975.
ILLUSTRATED BY PETER BULL
'st published in Great Britain in 201 1 by Osprey Publishing, dland House, West Way, Botley, Oxford, OX2 OPH, UK -02 23rd St, Suite 219, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA
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CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
THE GENESIS OF THE US NAVAL SUBMARINE FORCE
THE NAVY'S FIRST MODERN SUBMARINES
Basic design BN: 97B 1 84908 1856 book ISBN: 978 1 84908 1863
Basic form Engines
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Batteries Armament Radio Sonar
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THE NAMING OF SUBMARINES
Disaster 1: The USS F-4 Disaster 2: The USS F-7 The L-Class and operations during World War I
The "Submarine Propeller" also known as the "Alligator" Stern as modified at the Washington Navy Yard in 1862 by Martin Thomas •
Dome hatch as installed by Samuel Eakin in May 1862
S SUBMARINES 1900-35 35 Scale Feet
INTRODUCTION This book is an introduction to the early years of the US Naval Submarine Force, covering mainly the period 1900 to 1935. Even though there is little mention of other countries, inventors and navies here it should be understood that the US did not invent and develop a submarine force in a vacuum and that there were not only earlier, but also parallel, programs all over the world. The submarine as a naval weapon faced a problem early on in its development, which was that of propulsion. Early attempts at submarines used human power, compressed air, steam and other propulsion methods, with some limited success. The inventive insight of John Phillip Holland led to the combination of an internal combustion engine to provide surface power; an electric motor with power supplied by a storage battery to supply propulsion energy when submerged; and the use of the motor as a generator to charge the battery when the engine could be run on the surface. This combination of elements, properly arranged, made a workable, fully submerging vessel that, when equipped with a torpedo tube launching an automobile torpedo, was an invisible threat to any unsuspecting capital ship. Holland's submarine was purchased by the US Navy in 1900. By 1930, a mere 30 years later, the concept of submarine warfare had been tested in war and had progressed so far that submarines could range over all the world's oceans and their role was written into the battle plans of all the world's navies.
Drawing by J. Christley as interpreted from the DeVilleroi design drawings by J.Christley, D. Merriman and T.Smalley
The small submarine was duly inspected. The result of this inspection was that the Navy contracted a slightly larger version as a possible weapon with which to attack the ironclad CSS Virginia, then being built by the Confederacy in the recently captured Gosport navy yard near Norfolk, Virginia. The building of the submarine was fraught with trouble and controversy. However, on May 1, 1862, the "Submarine Propeller," as it was called, was launched by a crane which lowered the boat into the Delaware River. Samuel Eakin was appointed to superintend the boat and finish the details. Finally, it was ready; William Hirst, a Philadelphia lawyer and go-between for de Villeroi, got instructions from Commodore Joseph Smith, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, to formally turn the boat over to the Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, a task he completed on June 13, 1862, the true birthdate of the US Naval Submarine Force. This submarine, painted green on the outside and with its bulbous dome and paddles, resembled an alligator and was so nicknamed. The sobriquet stuck and the boat was referred to in official correspondence as the USS Alligator. The boat was deployed to the James River during the latter part of the American Civil War's "Seven Days Campaign" in 1862, but could not
The little submarine known as the Alligator was built by the Union Navy in late 1861 and accepted for service in June, , 862. It was deployed in the James River at the end of the US Civil War's Seven Days Campaign. It was lost off the North Carolina coast in April , 863 while being towed south to be used to attack Charleston, South Carolina. No crewmen were aboard. (Author's collection)
THE GENESIS OF THE US NAVAL SUBMARINE FORCE The American Civil War was under way by May 1861, when the Philadelphia police, acting on nervous reports of strange goings-on at the waterfront, arrested the French diver and inventor Brutus de Villeroi, and some of his workmen. They also impounded a curious device. It was an iron tube some 33ft long and about 5ft in diameter. De Villeroi had developed, based on his experiments in France, a submarine which he had hoped to use as a salvage platform. Without doubt the police, not being sure of the patriotic intent of the inventor, had no clear understanding of what this submarine object was, but they knew it needed to be put under the control of the United States Navy. Captain Samuel F. DuPont, commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, was informed about the device. He appointed three officers to examine it, interview the inventor and report their findings to him and the Na vy Department.
The USS Holland in drydock after being commissioned. The type seen here is very much like the Skipjack-Class fast-attack nuclear submarine of the 1960s. The man standing just forward of the flagstaff provides a sense of scale. (Navy History Center)
A D-Class engine room looking aft. One can imagine what the environment was like for the enginemen and electricians, with the noise, heat and moving parts. The main propulsion motors are just visible in the lower center. (Ric Hedman, Pigboats.com)
be used due to the shallowness of the river. It was sent to the Washington Navy Yard for testing and, finally, was put under tow early in 1863 and taken down the Atlantic coast with the aim of aiding the Union Navy's effort to force entry into Charleston harbor, South Carolina. The little submarine was lost in a storm off Cape Hatteras in April, 1863. Early the following year, the Confederate Navy's H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat. The US Navy bought another submarine, similar in nature to the Alligator, in 1864. It was called the Intelligent Whale and served as a test platform for some years, then was forgotten. This submarine, however, still exists - it is on display at the National Guard Museum of New Jersey, and is the oldest existing naval submarine in the world.
THE NAVY'S FIRST MODERN SUBMARINES :lass boat under truction. The building lod was not much 'ent from that used in ing surface ships. Frames set up and hull plates ~d in place. The saddleed ballast tanks1ted by the boat's Jfacturer, EB - are seen with the flat floor being ,ase for the battery cells. •uld be remembered that )ut the welding common nstruction today all the seen here had to be r cast to shape, rolled 1ammered to shape and ,d, or riveted, together. 1edman, Pigboats.com)
The Navy accepted and commissioned the USS Holland in October of 1900. It was the first of the unbroken line of commissioned submarines in the US Navy. John Holland had already built a follow-on design, the Fulton, which he showed to naval officials. The Navy wanted more boats and put in an order for seven to be built along the lines of the Fulton. The first was laid down in New Jersey the following month. By the spring of 1901, all seven were well in hand in two shipyards. On the west coast were the A-3 and the A-5 at the Union Iron Works in San Francisco. In Elizabethport, New Jersey, the A-l, A-2, A-4, A-6 and A-7 were being built in the Crescent Shipyard. The construction technique used was different from anything we see today as welding was non-existent. Everything had to be either cast into the desired shape or fabricated from rolled steel, which was then either bolted or riveted together. Frames of rolled T-stock or Z-stock were erected about 18in apart. These frames had pre-drilled, JAin holes around their periphery. Rolled and hammered, 1/2in oil-tempered plates, some nearly 70ft long and 8ft wide with tapered ends, were laid against the frames and holes were marked.
Atop the center of the pressure hull, a large cyl...