Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Related Content

U.S. Navy Submarines

Before the war, submarines were viewed as a novelty.   Germany changed this perception.  During the war, the U.S. Navy had 72 submarines in service.   The B-class submarines served in the Philippines.  The C-class were the first U.S. Navy submarines to hold major trials with warships.   This class served at Coco Solo, Panama Canal.  The F-class submarines were based in the Pacific, serving at Hawaii and off California.   F-1 sank in December 1917 when she accidentally collided with F-3.   Of the H-class submarines, the majority of the submarines served on the west coast while H-2 served in the Caribbean.    The last boat of the class, H-9, was commissioned after the war.    In the Atlantic, the D-class submarines served off New York and Connecticut.   The E-class submarines served in the Azores and off the eastern coast of the United States in patrols against U-boats.    The G-class submarines were used in submarine school at Groton, Connecticut and played a role in sound detection with tests done off Long Island.  For the K-class submarines, some saw service off the Azores, patrolling and protecting convoys.   They also performed experimental work, notably in the areas of listening devices and in the storage of batteries and torpedoes.  The L-class submarines had 11 boats in the class.  A notable action was an engagement between USS AL-2 and German submarine UB-65 on July 10, 1918.  Many saw service while based in Ireland.  The M-class submarine only had one in service with the U.S. Navy.   Other M-class submarines were purchased by the Russian Navy.   An interesting use of N-class submarines was with Q-ships.   The U.S. Navy purchased and employed vessels that were fitted out as a decoy ship, or "Q" ship as British called the vessels.   These ships were intended to act as a decoy to attract German U-boats with their innocent and defenseless appearance.  One Q-boat, Charles Whittemore, operated with the N-5, whose torpedoes could sink any U-Boat lured into range by the boat.    The O-class submarine had 16 boats in the class.   All were commissioned in 1918, departed in early November, but before any action Armistice was signed. 

Image:  80-G-451709:   USS K-2 (Submarine #33), off Pensacola, Florida, April 12, 1916.   Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collection of the National Archives.