Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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F-4 (Submarine No. 23)


(Submarine No. 23: displacement 330; length 142'7"; beam 15'5"; draft 12'2"; speed 14 k.; complement 22; armament 4 18-inch torpedo tubes; class F-1)

Skate (Submarine No. 23) was renamed F-4 on 17 November 1911, and launched 6 January 1912 by the Moran Bros., Co., Seattle, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. M. F. Backus; and commissioned on 3 May 1913, Lt. (j.g.) K. H. Donavin in command.

Joining the First Submarine Group, Pacific Torpedo Flotilla, F-4 participated in the development operations of that group along the west coast, and from August 1914, in Hawaiian waters. During maneuvers off Honolulu on 25 March 1915, she sank in 51 fathoms, 1- miles from the harbor. Despite valorous efforts of naval authorities at Honolulu to locate the missing boat and save her crew, all 21 men perished.

A diving and engineering precedent was established with the Navy's raising of the submarine on 29 August 1915. 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 Admiral C. B. T. Moore, and Lieutenant C. Smith who accomplished the feat with the aid of specially devised and constructed pontoons.

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.

F-4 was stricken from the Navy Register on 31 August 1915.

Published: Tue Mar 22 12:58:02 EDT 2016