Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Submarine Force


DASO off Cape Kennedy, Florida

DASO off Cape Kennedy, FL. An A-3 Polaris fired from USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624) on 15 October 1969, with USS Lowery (DD-770) and USS Observation Island (AG-154) in background. Painting, oil on canvas by James E. Mitchell; 1970; dimensions 35H X 53W (Accession#: 70-731-B).


Submarines have a long history in the United States, beginning with Turtle, during the American Revolution. The world’s first combat submarine, invented by David Bushnell, was devised as a means of breaking the British blockade of Boston Harbor but was unsuccessful on multiple attempts. The U.S. Navy officially joined the undersea world when it purchased USS Holland (SS-1) on 11 April 1900, and commissioned her on 12 October 1900. The boat, designed by John P. Holland, proved valuable for experimental purposes during her 10-year career.

Although submarines did not play a large part for the U.S. during World War I, submarines such as USS K-5 (Submarine No. 36), one of the first U.S. diesel-electric submarines, deployed to the Azores patrolling for German submarines. World War II was when the submarine force became the workhorse of the U.S. Navy. Assessments indicated that U.S. submarines sank 540,192 tons of Japanese naval vessels, and 4,779,902 tons of merchant shipping during the course of the war, accounting for 54.6 percent of all Japanese vessel losses.

USS Nautilus (SSN-571) — developed by Hyman G. Rickover — was the first nuclear-powered submarine, and the first submarine to cross the North Pole under the Arctic polar ice pack. USS George Washington (SSBN-598) made history on 20 July 1960, when she successfully launched the first Polaris from a submerged submarine. The Tomahawk land-attack missile was later developed, and was first used by, submarines in combat during Operation Desert Storm by USS Louisville (SSN-724) and USS Pittsburgh (SSN-720).

Today’s submarine force is the most capable force in the world and the history of the U.S. Navy. The composition of the current force consists of Los Angeles, Ohio, Seawolf, and Virginia-class submarines.

 

The Naval Undersea Museum and Submarine Force Museum
The Naval Undersea Museum collects, preserves, and interprets naval undersea history, science, and operations for the benefit of the U.S. Navy and the people of the United States. The Submarine Force Museum collects, preserves and interprets the history of the United States Naval Submarine Force in order to honor veterans and to educate naval personnel and the public in the heritage and traditions of the U.S. Submarine Force and its relationship to America’s freedom.

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Video: The History of Submarines

Submarines have a long history in the United States, beginning with Turtle, during the American Revolution. The world’s first combat submarine, invented by David Bushnell, was devised as a means of breaking the British blockade of Boston Harbor but was unsuccessful on multiple attempts.

The U.S. Navy officially joined the undersea world when it purchased USS Holland (SS-1) on 11 April 1900, and commissioned her on 12 October 1900. The boat, designed by John P. Holland, proved valuable for experimental purposes during her 10-year career. Since then submarines have evolved dramatically, but remain a vital part of the American fleet.

Notable Submariners

Notable Submarines

H-Grams

Art Exhibit

Underwater Archaeology Sites and Projects

Blogs

Further Resources

Selected Imagery


Photo #: NH 59  USS Holland (Submarine Torpedo Boat # 1)

USS Holland (SS-1) in dry dock, circa 1900, soon after she entered Navy service. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog#: NH 59.


Take Her Down

Cmdr. Howard W. Gilmore giving his last order: “Take her down,” after USS Growler (SS-215) had collided with a Japanese patrol boat on 7 February 1943. Catalog# NH 53787.


USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571)

USS Nautilus (SSN-571). National Archives. Catalog#: K-20068.


Photo #: NH 97545  USS Thresher

USS Thresher (SSN-593) bow-on view, taken at sea on 24 July 1961. Official U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 97545.


USS TRITON (SSN-586)

USS Triton (SSN-586) underway in the Atlantic. National Archives. Catalog#: USN 1122245.


USS LOS ANGELES (SSN-688)

USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) underway in the Atlantic during her sea trials, 19 September 1976. National Archives. Catalog#: 1167880.


USS Pittsburgh

A photograph snapped through USS Pittsburgh’s periscope captures the moment she fires a TLAM against the Iraqi forces, 19 January 1991. (Unattributed Department of Defense Photograph DN-SN-91-08885, Record Group 330 Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921–2008, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD)


USS Providence

USS Providence transits the Thames River as she departs Naval Submarine Base New London, CT, 10 August 2012. (Lt. (j.g.) Jeffrey Prunera, U.S. Navy photograph 120810-N-ZZ999-043, Navy NewStand)


Photo #: 80-G-35725  Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Morton, USN

Lt. Cmdr. Dudley W. Morton, commanding officer, USS Wahoo (SS-238), at right with his executive officer, Lt. Richard H. O’Kane, on Wahoo’s open bridge, at Pearl Harbor after her very successful third war patrol, circa 7 February 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog#: 80-G-35725.



Photo #: NH 42273  USS Tang (SS-306)

USS Tang (SS-306) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, CA, 2 December 1943. U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 42273.


Polaris Missile

The first firing of a Polaris missile from USS George Washington (SSBN-598), shot from beneath the surface, July 1960. National Archives. Catalog#: K-25571.


USS SKATE (SSN-578)

USS Skate (SSN-578) surfaced at the North Pole, 1 April 1959. National Archives. Catalog#: USN 1040961.


USS Narwhal

Nuclear submarine Narwhal (SSN-671) underway in a photo taken prior to commissioning. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog#: L45-195.01.01.


Newport News, VA - Principals stand on the christening platform as Mrs. Barbara Bush, sponsor, prepares to christen the nuclear powered attack submarine USS Houston (SSN-713) during launch ceremonies. March 21, 1981.

Principals stand on the christening platform as Mrs. Barbara Bush, sponsor, prepares to christen the nuclear powered attack submarine USS Houston (SSN-713) during launch ceremonies, March 21, 1981, at Newport News, VA. Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: K 130668


USS Atlanta

Nuclear powered attack submarine USS Atlanta (SSN-712) underway off Hampton Roads, VA. National Archives. Catalog#: DN-SN-82-05062

Published: Wed Apr 10 11:23:22 EDT 2019