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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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S-3

 

(SS-107: dp. 876 (surf.), 1,092 (subm.); l. 231'; b. 21'10"; dr. 13'1"; s. 15 k. (surf.), 11 k. (subm.); cpl. 38; a. 4 21" tt., 1 4"; cl. S-3)

 

S-3 (SS-107) was laid down on 29 August 1917 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard; launched on 21 December 1918; sponsored by Mrs. William L. Hill; and commissioned on 30 January 1919, Comdr. John W. Lewis in command.

 

S-3 was the third of the three original S-boats built by different contractors for performance comparison. Though the contracts specified the same general performance criteria for each, the builders followed their individual designs. S-1 was known as the “Holland-type,” S-2 as the “Lake-type,” and S-3 as the “Government-type.”

 

Following outfitting and trials, S-S began her career with training operations along the New England coast, operating out of Portsmouth and New London. In 1920, she twice visited Havana, Cuba; first in January, and again in December.

 

In July of 1921, she was attached to SubDiv 12 which, along with SubDiv 18, was to rendezvous off Portsmouth for the longest voyage on record, at that time, for American submarines. The two divisions were assigned to the Asiatic Fleet as SubFlot 3 at the Cavite Naval Station in the Philippines. They sailed via the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor where S-3 was detached and reassigned to operate on the west coast from Mare Island, Calif. The two divisions continued on and successfully completed the voyage, arriving at Cavite on 1 December.

 

S-3 departed Pearl Harbor on 9 November and sailed to the west coast where she operated until mid-July 1923. On 17 July, she took departure from San Francisco Bay to retransit the Panama Canal en route to New London.

 

Reaching New London on the 5th of September, she was attached to SubDiv 2, Atlantic Fleet, and assigned experimental duty at the Submarine School at New London, assuming the duties of S-1, flagship of SubDiv 2, which was conducting special experiments with aircraft. During the remainder of 1923 and the years following, into 1927, she ranged the east coast conducting training operations and evaluating new techniques in submarine development.

 

In July of 1927, S-3 and S-1 formed SubDiv 4 and began a schedule which included operational cruises to the Panama Canal Zone in the spring months of 1928, 1929, and 1930. The remaining months of those years were spent in operations along the New England coast.

 

Early in 1931, S-3 was ordered to Philadelphia for inactivation. She was decommissioned there on 24 March and laid up. She was struck from the Navy list on 25 January 1937 and subsequently scrapped.

 

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SS-108 was never built. Construction of this submarine was to have incorporated the "Neff" propulsion system. This system was designed to eliminate the motors and storage batteries normally used in subsurface propulsion, using in their place the surface diesels. Compressed air, stored on board, was to have supported the combustion cycle of the diesels, while a collector device was to dispose of the exhaust gases. Proponents of this system sought to increase submerged range and speed. However, design limitations such as weight and space requirements for the compressed air handling equipment, dangers in handling the toxic exhaust, and noise caused plans for SS-108 to be cancelled.