R-16 (Submarine No. 93) was laid down by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif., 26 April 1917; launched 15 December 1917; sponsored by Mrs. Edward R. Wilson; and commissioned 5 August 1918, Lt. Comdr. Cecil Y. Johnston in command.
Following commissioning, R-16 proceeded to Balboa, C.Z., whence she conducted patrols until December. Then ordered back to California, she remained on the west coast into June 1919. On the 17th she got underway from San Francisco and on the 25th, arrived at Pearl Harbor. Designated SS-93 in July 1920 she operated with fleet units for the next 11 years.
R-16 departed Pearl Harbor 12 December 1930 and, after transiting the Panama Canal, proceeded to Philadelphia where she decommissioned 12 May 1931. In reserve for the next 9 years, she recommissioned 1 July 1940 and, by the end of the year, had again assumed patrol duties in waters off Panama. Ordered back to the east coast in the fall of 1941, she arrived at Key West 2 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. By 18 December, she was at New London, whence she conducted patrols and assisted in antisubmarine warfare training into February 1942. Shifted to the Virgin Islands the next month she continued her dual mission in the Caribbean, operating from St. Thomas and from Trinidad until 1 March 1943 when she returned to New London. There she conducted operations for the submarine school, the sound laboratory, and for DE and DD training units. Between 1 August 1943 and 20 March 1944, she operated from Bermuda, then returned to New London for her last year of naval service.
R-16 departed New London for Philadelphia 4 July 1945. Arriving the following day, she was decommissioned on the 16th and struck from the Navy list on the 25th. She was sold and delivered to the North American Smelting Co., Philadelphia, in March 1946.