(Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 5: displacement 107; length 63'10"; beam 11'11"; draft 10'7"; speed 8.0 knots (surfaced); 7.0 knots (submerged); complement 7; armament 1 18-inch torpedo tube; class Plunger)
Pike (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 6) was laid down on 10 December 1900 at San Francisco, Calif., by Union Iron Works, a subcontractor for the John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Co., of New York; launched on 14 January 1903; sponsored by Mrs. Frank Baker Zahm, the wife of the naval constructor at Union Iron Works; and commissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., on 28 May 1903, Lt. Arthur MacArthur, Jr. (the elder brother of future General of the Army Douglas MacArthur) in command.
Pike operated out of the Mare Island Navy Yard for over three years, operating principally in experimental and training roles. Following the earthquake and subsequent catastrophic fire at San Francisco on 18 April 1906, members of Pike’s crew took part in the relief efforts in the wake of the disaster.
Decommissioned on 28 November 1906, Pike remained inactive until 8 June 1908, when she was recommissioned for local operations with the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla, off the Pacific coast. She remained attached to this unit into June of 1912. Toward the end of this period, Pike was renamed A-5 (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 6) on 17 November 1911.
A-5 arrived at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., on 26 June 1912, and, two days later, was placed in reserve. Following two and a half years of inactivity there, A-5 was loaded on board the collier Hector on 15 February 1915 (her sister ship A-3, Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 4, was loaded the next day). A-5 made the voyage to the Philippines as deck cargo. She arrived at Olongapo on 26 March. Launched on 13 April, she was recommissioned on 17 April, and assigned to the Asiatic Fleet.
Shortly after the United States entered the Great War [World War I], A-5 sank while moored at the Cavite Navy Yard on 15 April 1917, her sinking attributed to a slow leak in a main ballast tank. She was raised on 19 April and, following reconditioning, returned to active service. Like her sister ships, she patrolled the waters off the entrance to Manila Bay during the course of the war with the Central Powers.
A-5, given the identification number SS-6 on 17 July 1920, was decommissioned on 25 July 1921. Earmarked as a target vessel, the submarine torpedo boat was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 January 1922.
Robert J. Cressman
Updated, 4 August 2022