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USS L-4 (SS-43)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS L-4 (SS-43)

USS L-4 (SS-43) was laid down on 23 March 1914 at Quincy, Mass., by Fore River Shipbuilding Co. as a subcontract for Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; launched on 3 April 1915; and sponsored by Mrs. Stephen A. Gardner.

Commissioned at the Boston [Mass.] Navy Yard, on 4 May 1916, Lt. (j.g.) Lewis Hancock, Jr. in command, USS L-4 (SS-43) was initially assigned to the Fifth Division, Submarine Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, as of 5 May 1916, and she conducted her shakedown in the waters off New England (4 May-22 June 1916). After these exercises, she proceeded to the Philadelphia [Pa.] Navy Yard where she remained until 1 July. Having spent the New Years’ holidays at Havana, USS L-4 (SS-43) cleared the Cuban capital on 2 January 1917 and arrived, later that day at Key West. Remaining there until 22 January, she got underway bound for Pensacola, Fla., via the Dry Tortugas (22-26 January) and arriving at her destination on 28 January. She spent the succeeding weeks operating along the Gulf coast from Pensacola and Mobile, Ala. (14-21 February) well into March.

While underway on 1 June 1918, in poor visibility, the submarine spotted USSTerry (Destroyer No. 25) about 4,000 yards astern. When the destroyer spotted USS L-4 (SS-43), she changed course and sped toward the submarine. When the submarine deployed a smoke grenade, it exploded and caused USSTerry to believe that she was being fired upon. With that the destroyer ceased firing and proceeded south while dispatching a warning that there was a German U-boat reported in the area. USS L-4 (SS-43) returned to her base the next day.

USS L-4 (SS-43) departed Berehaven on 22 November 1918 and shifted to Queenstown. She cleared Base No. 6 on 25 November and made her way to Portland, England, in company with AL-10 (Submarine No. 50). Both submarines arrived the next day. On 7 December, 15 members of the USS L-4 (SS-43) ship’s company traveled to Harwich, England, for duty in connection with surrendered German U-boats. While at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, USS L-4 (SS-43) underwent a post-deployment refit and overhaul until 26 May. Clearing the yard, she shifted to Hampton Roads, where she arrived the following day. She operated from the Submarine Base through the remainder of the year.

On 16 November 1920, USS L-4 (SS-43) was ordered to prepare to transfer to the Submarine Repair Division at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard under tow on 9 January 1921. On 26 March the Submarine Repair Division was abolished and USS L-4 (SS-43) was transferred to Submarine Division Three and remained in an inactive status at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. USS L-4 (SS-43) was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and stricken from the Navy list on 14 April 1922. USS L-4 (SS-43) was sold to the Pottstown Steel Co., Douglassville, Pa., on 31 July 1922 for scrapping. She was delivered to the purchaser and removed from the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 6 September 1922.

For a complete history of USS L-4 (SS-43) please see its DANFS page.