R-17 (Submarine No. 94) was laid down by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif., 5 May 1917; launched 24 December 1917; sponsored by Miss Bertha F. Dew; and commissioned 17 August 1918, Lt. Comdr. William R. Munroe in command.
Commissioned toward the end of World War I, R-17 operated briefly off the California coast, then patrolled off the Panama Canal Zone, returning to California in December 1918. In March 1919, she arrived at San Francisco for overhaul, after which she moved west to Pearl Harbor. Departing the west coast 17 June, she arrived in Hawaii on the 25th and for the next 11 years operated with fleet units and tested equipment being developed for submarines.
The submarine, designated SS-94 in July 1920, departed Pearl Harbor 12 December 1930, called at San Diego, thence continued on to the east coast for inactivation. Arriving at Philadelphia 9 February 1931, she was decommissioned 15 May and berthed at League Island until after the outbreak of World War II in Europe.
Recommissioned at New London, 25 March 1941, R-17 headed south on 14 May, patrolled in the Virgin Islands during June; off the Canal Zone in July, August, and September; then, in October, returned to New London. For the next 4 months she conducted training exercises. On 9 March 1942, she was decommissioned and transferred to the United Kingdom under the Lend-Lease Agreement. Commissioned in the Royal Navy as P.512, she was employed at Bermuda as a training ship for the Royal Canadian Navy until 6 September 1944 when she was returned to the U.S. Navy at Philadelphia. Retained for use as a target ship until after the end of the war in Europe, R-17 was struck from the Navy list 22 June 1945. She was sold, 16 November 1945, to the North American Smelting Co., Philadelphia, for scrapping.