Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Plunger-class submarines, 1903-21

Following the success of the first U.S. Navy submarine-torpedo boat, USS Holland, the U.S. Navy progressed to the seven Plunger-class submarines:  Plunger, Adder, Grampus, Moccasin, Pike, Porpoise, and Shark.   All the boats were commissioned in 1903.  Five of the submarines served on the east coast with Grampus and Pike serving on the west coast.   In August 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to dive in a submarine when he descended in Plunger.  The following year, after the San Francisco Earthquake, Grampus and Pike assisted the city.   Starting in 1909, the Plunger-class, except for Plunger herself, was transported by collier in successive years to the Philippines.   In 1911, the submarines were renamed, starting with Plunger as A-1 to Shark A-7.  During World War I, the boats patrolled off the Philippines, except for Plunger, which was struck from the Navy List in 1913.  In July 1920, the submarines were redesignated and renamed, though mostly inactive, starting with Plunger as SS-2 then numerically descending to Shark as SS-8.    By the end of 1922, all of the submarines were either sold for scrap or sunk as targets.   

A model of Plunger-class submarines can be found in the Dive, Dive, Dive! exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.   

Image:  NH 45937:  Electric Boat Company/Holland Torpedo Boat Company Facility, New Suffolk, Long Island, showing the Plunger-class submarines, circa 1903.  NHHC Photograph Collection.