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The S-Boats
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USS S-31
The USS S-31 at gunnery practice. circa 1930's
You can see the splash of the round hitting the water just a short way from the boat.
Aiming and firing was a judgement thing and the boat must have rolled as the round was fired.

USS S-32 SS 137
USS S-32 SS 137

USS S-32
USS S-32 SS 137 off Tsingtao, China. Date unknown.

S-32 bridge detail
USS S-32 SS 137 off Tsingtao, China. Bridge detail.

USS S-32 SS 137 along side a tender with 4 other S class submarines
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

S-32 crew under deck awning
The USS S-32 tied up along side a tender. Crew is under shielding awning.
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

Laundry Day
USS S-32. Other subs tied up behind the 32 are doing their laundry.
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

USS S-32 diving
The USS S-32 diving. Circa 1930's

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The USS S-32 seen entering Dutch Harbor, Alaska on March 20th, 1943 she arrived off her most successful war patrol for a refit.

S-32 departed Unalaska on her 6th war patrol on 25 February 1943. En route to her assigned station off Attu, she encountered very rough seas, strong winds, rain, mist, and fog. On Feb. the 26th, rolling was measured as much as 65 degrees to starboard.

Progress west was slow, but, on 1 March 1943, she set a course toward Holtz Bay to check for enemy shipping. The next day, heavy mist and fog hindered her reconnaissance of Stellar Cove; and she turned to the coastal shipping lanes to intercept enemy traffic between Cape Wrangell and Holtz Bay. The entrances to the latter, to Chichagof Harbor, and to Sarana Bay, however were her primary hunting grounds. On the night of 9 March 1943, off Holtz Bay, she attacked and damaged an enemy destroyer, then underwent a brief depth charging. Leaks caused by the depth charging were minimized, and S-32 continued her patrol.

On 3 March, however, as she approached Attu, more normal Aleutian weather closed in. From then to the 16th, snow and rain storms were almost continuous, seas were rough, winds were strong, and periods of sunlight were limited. At 0157 on the 10th of March, while patrolling on a north-south line out of Holtz Bay, S-32 picked up a target on radar, some 7,000 yards away. Ten minutes later, a second smaller ship was detected ahead of the first target. Five minutes after the appearance of the second ship on the screen, the first ship was sighted, range about 2,000 yards. S-32 fired four torpedoes. Two very loud explosions were heard and were followed by distant rumblings. At 0219, at a range of just over 3,500 yards, all traces of the ships disappeared from the screen.

Four nights later, on March the 13th, seventeen miles north of Holtz Bay, she attacked an enemy submarine which was lying to on the surface with her engines smoking. At 2059, the S-boat fired two torpedoes at ten-second intervals at the enemy. At 2100, she went deep, and as she passed 50 feet, one torpedo exploded. At 2120, S-32 came to periscope depth, but the fog had closed in. The target was no longer visible.

On the afternoon of March the 15th 1943, a second submarine was sighted. The weather, for the first time, was "perfect for a periscope approach." At 1727, S-32 fired a three-torpedo spread, estimated range 2,500 yards; track angle favorable. About two and a half minutes later, a muffled explosion was heard in the torpedo room. No explosion was heard by the control party. The S-boat went to periscope depth. Smoke was pouring skyward from the enemy's conning tower. A photograph was taken of the scene as the damaged target headed for the nearest beach. At 1736, however, the enemy disappeared from view. Sound reported that the enemy's screws had stopped.

S-32 departed the Attu area early on the morning of March the 17th. On March the 20th 1943, she moored at Dutch Harbor and, nine days later, she again sailed west. En route to Attu, cold weather caused icing on the superstructure, but the seas remained fairly calm and the sun was occasionally visible.

On May 2, 1943 LCDR Max G. Schmidt was relieved of command by LCDR Fritz J. Harlfinger who came to the S-32 from being XO of the USS Whale.

On May 4, 1943 she again sailed west. En route to the Kurils, she patrolled across possible Japanese reinforcement routes to Kiska and Attu, but almost zero visibility during the passage hindered hunting. On the 12th, she entered her assigned area off Paramushiro. The next day, she obtained her first fix, off Onekotan, and commenced patrolling across the approaches to Onekotan Strait and Musashi Wan. Visibility remained poor; seas were rough. Her radar, which had gone out of commission on the 11th, functioned improperly throughout her short time on station. On the 15th, the port main motor armature developed a zero resistance to ground. Repeated repair attempts failed, and the motor was secured. S-32 turned back toward Unalaska and moored at Dutch Harbor on the May 23, 1943.

On May the 27th, the submarine departed the Aleutians for the last time; and, on June 6, 1943, she arrived at San Diego, where she provided training services for the remainder of World War II. Then designated for inactivation, she arrived at San Francisco on 13 September 1945 and was decommissioned at Mare Island on 19 October. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1945, and her hulk was sold for scrapping to the Learner Co., Oakland, Calif., in May 1946.

Photo From the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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The USS S-32 entering Dutch Harbor, Alaska on March 20th, 1943. She is flying a broom from one of her periscopes and a woman's bra from the other. It was give by some patriotic lady as a good luck charm for the submarine. The luck was there for this war patrol. Left to right are Buster Ferrell, an Engineman and Edward McGloughlin a Motor Machinist Mate. (Spellings are noted to be close)

Photo From the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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Left to right are Buster Ferrell, an Engineman and Edward McGloughlin a Motor Machinist Mate. It is noted also that the spellings of the mens names is approximate. It also note the presence of the bra. The notes were provided to us by a former S-32 crew member.

Photo From the Private Collection of Ric Hedman, thanks to Wendy Gully of the Submarine Force Library & Museum for annotated photo


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A close up of Buster Ferrell and Edward McGloughlin with the "Clean Sweep" broom lashed to the periscope and the "Good Luck" bra flying from the other periscope.

Photo From the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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The crew of the USS S-32 on deck and from the looks on men’s faces there is someone speaking to them. Some are listening some are not. Some probably want to get in out of the weather and get their mail and decent meal.

Photo From Wendy Gully of the Submarine Force Library & Museum


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Close-up of the men on the deck of the S-32 after her return to Dutch Harbor after a very successful war patrol. An officer, maybe commanding officer LCDR Max G. Schmidt stands in the foreground.

Photo From Wendy Gully of the Submarine Force Library & Museum


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Close-up of the men on the deck of the S-32 after her return to Dutch Harbor after a very successful war patrol. The S-32's black stewadsmate is in the left foreground. The S-32's 4"/50 caliber deck gun can be seen surrounded by the crew.

Photo From Wendy Gully of the Submarine Force Library & Museum


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Men on the bridge of the S-32. The Dutch Harbor shoreline can be seen in the background. Looks pretty cold and uninviting. The man seen in profile may be Buster Ferrell as noted in other images above.

Photo From Wendy Gully of the Submarine Force Library & Museum


S-32 in San Francisco Bay
This could very well be the last known photo taken of the S-32. S-32 arrived Sept. 13, 1945
in San Francisco. The S-32 was was decommissioned at Mare Island on 19 October.
Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1945.  The flags in the foreground
are attached to the USS Tautog SS 199 while she was open for public visits during Sept/Oct 1945.
Info from Subnet.com

S-32 in San Francisco Sept/Oct 1945. There appears to be two tugs
coming along side the S-32 but they could also just be passing her too.
There appears to be a prop wake astern of the S-32 so she might be under
way on her own power. Periscope and flags are from the USS Tautog SS 199.

USS S-33 SS 138
USS S-33 SS 138

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An undated photo but most likely circa mid 1930's, possibly Cavite or Pearl Harbor. I can't identify the location but it appears to be a navy yard of some sorts. The date is after modifications that lead to the cutting away of the after superstructure and installation of the messenger buoy. The sub is sitting at the dock with a down by the bow angle. You can see the waterline marks on the hull and around the messenger buoy fairing.

Quite extensive work is being done by the number of power lines and air hoses leading from the dock to the sub. There is ventilation ducting leading to the subs engineroom and bridge to either force cool air in or carry away fumes from possible welding and burning.

Original Photo from the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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An undated photo but most likely circa mid 1920's to early 1930's. I can't identify the location but it appears to be a major navy yard. The USS S-34 is featured in the center and a crewman is standing for the camera with his feet straddling the "K" tube, an early form of a sonar. There are 3 other "S" class subs moored outboard. The boat just outboard the S-34 is facing the opposite direction, as are the other two, and a portion of the after superstructure has been removed to gain access to most likely the engine exhausts and mufflers. The next two subs have crew laundry out to dry from the radio antenna support cables. The second boat out has an awning rigged over the foredeck and gun.

Original Photo from the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

S-34 moored in a nest alongside the USS Beaver
S-34 moored in a nest alongside the USS Beaver.
There are five S-boats moored here. The second boat out from the
tender appears to have a different stern. The S-10 through S-13 were
built with one stern torpedo tube. This is no doubt one of those four subs.
All the subs have "dressed ship" meaning they are flying all their signal flags.
Ships and naval vessels do this for special occasions and holidays

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The USS S-35 seen here at the end of her overhaul at Bremerton Navy Shipyard on May 2, 1943. While on her fifth war patrol the S-35 suffered massive damage due to electrical shorts and fires caused by water flooding down the bridge access hatch. High over the building can be seen a Barrage Balloon.

Cold weather added icing to the climatic hazards of the northern Pacific Ocean; but, on December 11, 1942 S-35 headed out of Dutch Harbor on her fifth war patrol. On December 15, she commenced operations to intercept enemy traffic to Attu and Kiska; but, on December 17, a case of acute appendicitis forced her to Adak, Alaska, where she was to transfer the sick man to seaplane tender Gillis for treatment. On December 18, she approached the rendezvous point but was sighted by enemy planes. On the morning of December 19, she completed the transfer; then resumed patrol east of Kiska. On the afternoon of December 21, she ran into a storm while surfaced off Amchitka; and, by early evening, waves were smashing over the bridge and cascading into the control room. The conning tower hatch was ordered shut. Almost simultaneously, another huge wave crashed over the bridge, flinging the captain, Lieutenant Henry S. Monroe, into the hatch. Injured, Monroe retired to his quarters, only to be roused a short time later, about 18:30, by cries of "fire" in the control room.

Puget Sound Navy Yard Photo / NARA Seattle Collection


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Electric arcs and blue flames spewed out of the main power cables coming from the forward battery. Smoke filled the room; and water, which had caused the fire by soaking cables and causing a short, rose in the control room bilges. The fire was extinguished in the control room but immediately broke out in the forward battery.

Puget Sound Navy Yard Photo / NARA Seattle Collection


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Fire extinguishers had no effect. The forward two compartments were abandoned and the battery was secured. Fire again broke out in the control room; and, as in the forward battery, extinguishers were of little help. Smoke filled the control room. The engines were stopped. The room was abandoned and sealed. Short circuits spread. Electrical equipment was disabled. A hole was burned in the top of the Number Two main ballast tank and lines from two air banks were severed.

Puget Sound Navy Yard Photo / NARA Seattle Collection


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At about 18:55, unsuccessful attempts to reenter the control room, using escape lungs, were made. Shortly thereafter, two volunteers, using oxygen charged lungs, entered the room; flooded the magazines; partially blew the Number Three main ballast tank to gain more freeboard; and shut the auxiliary induction to seal the forward battery.

Puget Sound Navy Yard Photo / NARA Seattle Collection


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The fight to save the submarine continued. The engines were started again; a fire extinguisher watch was set over the section of cable still arcing; and a bucket brigade was organized to assist in keeping down the water level. By 20:00, all extinguishers had been emptied. But S-35, under manual control, was moving east.

Puget Sound Navy Yard Photo / NARA Seattle Collection


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(There seems to be a foulweather jacket stuffed up into the overhead to maybe block a leak or drip.)

The morning of 21 December brought new fires. Twice, at 07:00 and at 11:00, eruptions forced the crew to the bridge. But the same flares apparently contributed to the fire's burning itself out. After the second, the forward battery was sufficiently discharged and the cables sufficiently ruptured to prevent further fire in the control room. Smoke from the forward battery compartment, however, continued to be a problem until she entered Kuluk Bay and the battery was disconnected. Arriving at noon on 24 December, the boat was ventilated; medical help was obtained; four men were hospitalized; and mattresses, bedding, and clothing were dried.

On 29 December, S-35 made her way, under escort, into Dutch Harbor. Usable equipment was removed for installation in other S-boats, and, on 14 January 1943 she began the long trip to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs. Arriving at Bremerton, Washington on 29 January, repairs took her into the spring. From 20–31 May, she conducted post repair trials; and, on 3 June, she moved north again.

For heroism and devotion to duty in saving the submarine and her crew Lieutenant Commander Stone and Chief Petty Officer, Chief Electrician's Mate Frederick H. Barbero were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for non-combat heroism.

Puget Sound Navy Yard Photo / NARA Seattle Collection


USS S-35
USS S-35 in rough weather

USS S-35
USS S-35 in rough weather. Date and location unknown.

The USS S-35 with an unidentified S-boat . Circa 1930's

USS S-36 under construction
USS S-36 under construction, December 30, 1921 at
Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.
Photo courtesy of Ray 'Oldgoat' Stone

USS S-36 SS 141
USS S-36 SS 141. March 29, 1923, 6 days before commissioning.

USS S-36 SS 141
USS S-36 SS 141 off Tsingtao, China, 1936.
She grounded in WW II on Jan 20, 1942 and was destroyed
by crew before abandoning ship.


USS S-36 SS 141
USS S-36 SS 141 off Tsingtao, China, 1936.

USS S-36 at gunnery practice off Tsingtao, China, 1936.
USS S-36 at gunnery practice off Tsingtao, China, 1936.

USS S-36 at gunnery practice.
USS S-36 at gunnery practice off Tsingtao, China, 1936.

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The USS S-36 SS 141 seen here off Tsingtao, China in the mid 1930's. Mooring lines are faked out on deck and even over the radio antenna support wire. The maneuvering watch has been stationed and line handlers are ready. On the bridge, either the Captain of Officer Of the Deck, is sitting on the top of the periscope shears.

Photo From the Private Collection of Mike Kaup


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The USS S-36 SS 141 seen here off Tsingtao, China in the circa 1940. Mooring lines are faked out on deck and even over the radio antenna support wire. The maneuvering watch has been stationed and line handlers are ready. On the bridge, either the Captain of Officer Of the Deck, is sitting on the top of the periscope shears.

Photo From the Private Collection of Mike Kaup


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The USS S-36 SS 141 seen here off Tsingtao, China in the mid 1930's. Mooring lines are faked out on deck and even over the radio antenna support wire. The maneuvering watch has been stationed and line handlers are ready. On the bridge, either the Captain of Officer Of the Deck, is sitting on the top of the periscope shears.

Photo From the Private Collection of Mike Kaup


S-36 bow taken in dry dock
Photo of the S-36 bow taken in dry dock.
Torpedo tube outer doors and shutters are open.
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

S-36 loading torpedoes from a tender
The S-36 loading torpedoes from the tender.
Photo taken from tender USS Canopus.
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

S-boats moored to the USS Canopus
S-37, S-40, S-36, S-38, S-41 and S-39
moored to the USS Canopus at Tsingtao, China circa 1930.
Naval Historical Center Photo

S-37 off Tsingtao, China
S-37 off Tsingtao, China. An other unidentified S-boat is background.
Photo taken from tender USS Canopus.
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

Tsingtao, Chins circa 1930
Deck guns all in a row.
Tsingtao, China circa 1930. Boats shown are the S-36, S-39,
(unseen boat is most likely the S-32), S-37 and S-41
Naval Historical Center Photo

Tsingtao, China photo
Another view of the photo above.
Naval Historical Center Photo

S37, 38, 39, 40 at Olongapo, Philippines
S37, 38, 39, 40 at Olongapo, Philippines
Naval Historical Center Photo

S-37 crewman with deckgun
S-37 crewman with deckgun. Most of the white speckles under gun barrel
are damage to the  film emulsion on the original print. Date unknown.
Photo probably taken off the coast of Tsingtao, China, 1930's.

S-37 crewmen with deckgun
S-37 crewmen with deckgun.
Photo probably taken off the coast of Tsingtao, China, 1930's.

S-37 crewmen
Closeup of crewmen.
Photo probably taken off the coast of Tsingtao, China, 1930's

S-37 crew at gun practice
S-37 crewmen at gun practice with the deckgun.
Photo taken off the coast of Tsingtao, China, 1925.

S-37 crew at gun practice
S-37 crewmen at gun practice with the deckgun.
Photo taken off the coast of Tsingtao, China, 1925.

S-37 in dry dock
S-37 in dry dock in Olongapo, PI. Marine on guard. 1925.

S-37 in dry dock
S-37 in dry dock in Olongapo, PI. Marine on guard. 1925.

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This is the galley aboard the USS S-37. On the left is the ships coffee pot with a waste can below. Next that are two banks of storage lockers. A fire extinguisher for grease fires on the range is attached to the bulkhead. Next to that is a small sheet metal shelf for holding things like salt, pepper and other commonly used condiments used by the cook.

The range is about the size of a large house range and it produced all the food for the crew as many as four times a day. There is a large griddle surface for frying meats, eggs, pancakes, toast and pretty much anything you'd want to eat. On the right are two flat topped hot plates for cooking in pots and pans. Below is a warming drawer to keep cooked foods warm until served. Below that is the main oven for baking and roasting. On the far or left side of the range is a large tank for making hot water with sight glasses and taps.

On the right is the ships sink that was used for preparing food and washing dishes. In this photo you can see a large, folding cutting board that has been attached to the sink face to increase the amount of room needed for cooking. Space is always at a premium and sub sailors are resourceful people.

This is also the battery compartment and on the deck under the front edge of the stove can be seen the hold downs used to stretch the canvas decking over the boards used to cover the battery well. By accounts by men who sailed these boats the decks were a bright green in color.

Photo in the collection of Ric Hedman


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This is the galley aboard a different S class submarine. On the left are the two banks of storage lockers. The fire extinguisher seen in the photo above is not mounted in this vessel neither is the small sheet metal shelf for condiments used by the cook.

The range is about the size of a large house range and it produced all the food for the crew as many as four times a day. There is a large griddle surface for frying meats, eggs, pancakes, toast and pretty much anything you'd want to eat. On the right are two flat topped hot plates for cooking in pots and pans. Below is a warming drawer to keep cooked foods warm until served. Below that is the main oven for baking and roasting. On the far or left side of the range is a large tank for making hot water with sight glasses and taps is more clearly seen.

On the right is the ships sink that was used for preparing food and washing dishes. In this photo the large, folding cutting board is missing also. The large valves and handles are no doubt for salt water for the first washing of the dishes and then they are rinsed with fresh water. Fresh water is another thing that was at a premium aboard submarines.

This is also the battery compartment. The deck can't really so we can't tell if it has been removed. The very bright rectangle seen on the cabinets under the sink and in the lower right of the photo makes us think the soft patch over the battery compartment has been removed to allow the servicing and replacement of battery cells allowing bright sunlight to enter the space.

Barely seen at the top of the photo is a decorative fringe probably put up by the cooks and on the far left there appears to be a bell, maybe to call the crew to meals.

Photo in the collection of Ric Hedman


S-37 taking on fuel
S-37 taking on fuel at sea circa 1925

USS S-37 SS 142

USS S-37 SS 142

U.S.S. S-37 (SS-142), on the THIRD War Patrol of that submarine during the month of February 1942, in enemy controlled waters of the Makassar Strait. During a night surface attack against a division of Japanese destroyers on 8 February 1942, Lieutenant Dempsey, the Commanding Officer, attacked a Japanese convoy, torpedoing and sinking the destroyer Natsushiro. In this action the ship became the first U.S. submarine ever to sink an enemy destroyer.



USS S-37 SS 142
USS S-37 SS 142 diving off Tsingtao, China. circa 1936.

Removal of bodies
Removal of the bodies of 3 crew killed in an explosion aboard the S-37, Oct. 1923.

S-37 ships bell
S-37 ships bell.
The S-37's bell is on display at the San Diego Maritime Museum
Photo Courtesy of the California Wreck Divers Assoc.

A wheel off the S-37
This is one of 3 such wheels that would have been aboard the S-37.
It is listed on the California Wreck Divers Assoc. page, who have
so graciously allowed me to use these photos, as a "Wheel"
probably meaning the Helm. It could also be from the stern or
bow planes controller stations.
Photo Courtesy of the California Wreck Divers Assoc.

Lines drawing S-37
Lines drawing of the USS S-37
Photo Courtesy of the California Wreck Divers Assoc.

S-37 midship section
S-37 midship section
Photo Courtesy of the California Wreck Divers Assoc.

S-37 Torpedoroom
The S-37 torpedo tube doors
Photo Courtesy of the California Wreck Divers Assoc.

S-37 surfacing from a dive
S-37 surfacing from a dive
Photo Courtesy of the California Wreck Divers Assoc.

USS S-38 SS 143
USS S-38 SS 143 on Asiatic Station in the late 1920's
On Dec 21, 1941 the S-38 was ordered to attack the Japanese  forces in
Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philipines. The S-38 crept into the gulf over a coral
reef to evade Japanese patrol boats. and fired on and sank the transport
Hayo Maru, a 5400 ton ship, though the Japaese counter attacked the S-38
slipped away. A Battery explosion forced her return to Manila on Christmas Eve.
Photo contributed by John P. Mullikin who's father, Machinist Mate John Arthur Mullikin, served on the S-38 and took this picture.
John Arthur Mullikin first qualified on the USS S-2 in the mid 1920's.

S-39 off Tsingtao, China
USS S-39 off Tsingtao, China.
Photo taken from tender USS Canopus.
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

USS Canopus with USS S-39, S-36, S-37, S-40 & S-38
USS Canopus anchored off Tsingtao, China  with
USS S-39, S-36, S-37, S-40 & S-38 moored along side during the mid 1930's.
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