Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS F-4 (SS-23)

Please see below for item images and donated collections containing photographs of USS F-4 (SS-23)

Skate (Submarine No. 23) was laid down on 21 August 1909 at Seattle, Wash., by The Moran Co. [a subcontractor for the Electric Boat Co.]; renamed F-4 on 17 November 1911; launched on 6 January 1912; sponsored by Mrs. M. F. Backus; and commissioned on 3 May 1913, Lt. (j.g.) Kirkwood H. Donavin in command.

Joining the First Submarine Group, Pacific Torpedo Flotilla, USS F-4 (SS-23) participated in the development operations of that group along the west coast, and from August 1914, in Hawaiian waters, the boats towed to their new opeerating area by armored cruisers. On 17 April 1915, during diving operations less than a month after the boat was lost with all hands, CGM William F. Loughman became fouled in the cables from one of the hoisting vessels to the submarine at a depth of 275 feet. 

The Navy's raising of USS F-4 (SS-23) on 29 August 1915 established a diving and engineering precedent, as courage and tenacity marked the efforts of divers who descended to attach cables to tow the boat into shallow water; while ingenuity and engineering skill characterized the direction of Naval Constructor Julius A. Furer, Rear Adm. Charles B. T. Moore (commandant of the naval station), and Lt. Charles E.. Smith (commander of the unit to which the boat had been attached) who accomplished the feat with the aid of specially devised and constructed pontoons that had been brought out from the west coast on board USS Maryland (Armored Cruiser No. 8).

The investigating board subsequently conjectured that corrosion of the lead lining of the battery tank had permitted seepage of sea water into the battery compartment and thereby caused the commanding officer to lose control on a submerged run.

USS F-4 (SS-23) was stricken from the Navy Register on 31 August 1915.

For a complete history of USS F-4 (SS-23) please see its DANFS page.