R-6 (Submarine No. 83) was laid down 17 December 1917 by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 1 March 1919; sponsored by Miss Katherine Langdon Hill; and commissioned at Boston 1 May 1919, Lt. Comdr. Charles Milford Elder in command.
After fitting out at Boston, R-6 reported to Submarine Division 9 of the Atlantic Fleet at New London, Conn., 16 September 1919. She got underway 4 December for Norfolk and winter exercises with her division in the Gulf of Mexico from 21 January to 14 April 1920. She returned to New London 18 May for 4 months of summer maneuvers, before sailing 13 September for Norfolk and overhaul.
With Division 9, R-6, designated SS-83 in July 1920, was ordered to the Pacific 11 April 1921; transited the Panama Canal 28 May; and arrived 30 June at her new base, San Pedro, Calif. Due to a malfunction in one of her torpedo tubes, she sank 26 September in San Pedro Harbor, but was refloated 13 October by R-10 (SS-87) and Cardinal (AM-6). From 26 February to 2 March 1923, R-6 was used by Twentieth Century-Fox in making the motion picture, "The Eleventh Hour."
R-6 was transferred 16 July 1923 to Hawaii where she remained for the next 8 years engaged in training and operations with fleet units.
R-6 was recalled to the Atlantic 12 December 1930, transited the Panama Canal 18 January 1931, and arrived 9 February at Philadelphia where she decommissioned 4 May 1931.
Upon recommissioning at New London 15 November 1940, R-6 was assigned to Division 42 and departed 10 December for the submarine base at Coco Solo, C.Z., where she remained until 16 June 1941. She was transferred to Division 31 at St. Thomas, V.I., on 22 June and operated out of there until returning to New London 8 October for a refit.
The submarine next joined the anti-U-boat patrol operating roughly on a line between Nantucket and Bermuda. Through 1942 she rotated between New London and Bermuda, conducting submerged periscope patrols by day and surface patrols at night to protect coastal traffic. From 1943 to mid-1945 she was employed primarily in training destroyers and destroyer escorts in antisubmarine warfare. In August 1945 she moved south to Florida and operated in the Port Everglades-Key West area. R-6 decommissioned at Key West 27 September and was struck from the Navy list 11 October 1945. She was sold for scrap to Macey O. Scott, Miami, Fla., in March 1946.