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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

R-4 (SS-81)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Lima - Golf

R-1 Class Submarine: Laid down, 16 October 1917, at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA.; Launched, 26 October 1918; Commissioned, USS R-4, 28 March 1919; Redesignated USS R-4 (SS-81), 17 July 1920; Decommissioned, 18 June 1945, at Philadelphia, PA.; Struck from the Naval Register, 11 July 1945; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping on 22 January 1946 to North American Smelting Co.
Partial data submitted by Yves Hubert.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 569 t., Submerged: 680 t.; Length 186' 2" ; Beam 18'; Draft 14' 6"; Speed, Surfaced 13.5 kts, Submerged 10.5 kts; Depth Limit, 200'; Complement 2 Officers, 27 Enlisted; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes forward, 8 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel electric engines, New England Ship and Engine Co., diesel engines, 1200hp, Fuel Capacity, 18,880 gals., Electro Dynamic Co., electric motors, twin propellers.
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U-111 489k Probably the R-4 (SS-81) (left) with captured German U-111 in center of the photo. The U-111 entered NY waters on 19 April 1919. Photo courtesy of Ric Hedman.
R-3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, S-3 & 4 191k R & S boats nested together, May 1920, alongside Submarine Tender Camden (AS-6). From inboard to outboard:
R-4 (SS-81),
R-5 (SS-82),
R-6 (SS-83),
R-10 (SS-87),
R-9 (SS-86),
R-8 (SS-85),
R-7 (SS-84),
R-3 (SS-80),
S-4 (SS-109)
and S-3 (SS-107).
Note that all the R-boats have gun platforms, but that guns are fitted only on R-10,
and R-3.
S-4 has a platform for a 4"/50 gun (but no gun is installed), while S-3 still has no gun platform.
US Navy photo # 19-N-9936, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham. Text i.d. courtesy of USNHC photo # NH 41855.
SS-84 & friends 79k The Submarine Tender Camden (AS-6) off New York City with twelve submarines alongside, circa 1920. Submarines are, from inboard to outboard (left to right):
R-1 (SS-78),
R-2 (SS-79),
R-4 (SS-81),
R-5 (SS-82),
R-6 (SS-83),
R-10 (SS-87),
R-9 (SS-86),
R-8 (SS-85),
R-7 (SS-84),
R-3 (SS-80),
S-4 (SS-109)
and S-3 (SS-107).
Official U.S. Navy Photograph # NH 99892, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
SS-84 & friends 100k The Submarine Tender Camden (AS-6) off New York City with twelve submarines alongside, circa 1920. Submarines are, from inboard to outboard (left to right):
R-1 (SS-78),
R-2 (SS-79),
R-4 (SS-81),
R-5 (SS-82),
R-6 (SS-83),
R-10 (SS-87),
R-9 (SS-86),
R-8 (SS-85),
R-7 (SS-84),
R-3 (SS-80),
S-4 (SS-109)
and S-3 (SS-107).
Official U.S. Navy Photograph # NH 59972, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
R-boats R- US 416k R-Boats tied to a tender. The cityscape in the background is New York City. Location is the 79th Street Boat Basin on the west side of Manhattan Island. They were in transit to Hawaii.
R-1 (SS-78),
R-2 (SS-79),
R-4 (SS-81),
R-5 (SS-82),
R-6 (SS-83),
R-10 (SS-87),
R-9 (SS-86),
R-8 (SS-85),
R-7 (SS-84) with the stern of another R-boat visible. It is quite possible that this photo is taken from a different angle from the one above with the same boats in order but only a partial view.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Ric Hedman.
US Navy photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
SS-84 & friends 87k R-boats off New York City, circa 1920. from inboard to outboard (left to right):
R-7 (SS-84),
R-8 (SS-85),
R-9 (SS-86),
R-10 (SS-87),
R-6 (SS-83),
R-5 (SS-82),
R-4 (SS-81).
Official U.S. Navy Photograph # NH 41746, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Image and text provided by Louisiana State University; Baton Rouge, LA.
Photo from The Madison Journal. (Tallulah, Madison Parish, La.) 1888-current, 05 June 1920, Image 2, via chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
SS-85 78k The Submarine Tender Camden (AS-6) in San Pedro Harbor, California, 1921. Submarines alongside are (from outboard to inboard):
R-1 (SS-78)
R-3 (SS-80)
R-8 (SS-85),
R-4 (SS-81),
R-2 (SS-79) &
R-10 (SS-87).
US Navy photo # NH 55044, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
BB-51 Montana132 This photo shows the submarines R-1 (SS-78), R-2 (SS-79), R-3(SS-80), R-4 (SS-81), R-5 (SS-82), R-7 (SS-84), R-8 (SS-85) & R-10 (SS-87) with Mud Scow #8 in Mare Island's Dry Dock #2 between 8 May and 10 June 1922. Note: The scaffold for the construction of the Montana (BB-51) can be seen above and to the right of the head of the dry dock. Seattle NARA photo # USN photo 60-30 Record Group 181, 13th Naval District, Records of the Naval District & Shore Establishments, courtesy of Tracy White @ researcheratlarge.com & submitted by Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California & R-41.13kTHE AIR SUBMARINE could be the title of this photo of the R-4 (SS-81) being hoisted above water in the Los Angeles harbor by the battleship California (BB-44) so that workmen could remove a torpedo jammed in the firing tube. Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from The Washington Times. (Washington [D.C.]) 1902-1939, 31 October 1922, HOME FINAL EDITION, Image 17, courtesy of chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
PDF added 03/21/14.
SS-83, 81 & 79 84k The Submarine Tender Camden (AS-6) photographed circa the early 1920s, with four R-boats alongside, including (from left to right):
R-6 (SS-83),
R-4 (SS-81),
unidentified R-boat and
R-2 (SS-79).
US Navy photo # NH 92002, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center. Collection of Joseph A. Hendricks.
R-4 & 5 117k R-4 (SS-81) & R-5 (SS-82) appear here probably before they were transferred 16 July 1923 with Division 9 and Canopus (AS-9) to Pearl Harbor where they remained for the next 8 years engaged in training and operations with fleet units. US Navy photo courtesy of Jerry Crow.
Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
R-4 80k R-4 (SS-81) in drydock during the early 1920s. US Navy photo # NH 77282, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical. Courtesy of Mrs. C.R. DeSpain, 1973. From the scrapbooks of Fred M. Butler.
R-4 48k R-4 (SS-81) submerging, circa the early 1920s. US Navy photo # NH 92004, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical. Collection of Joseph A. Hendricks.
R-4 162k R-4 (SS-81) underway in October 1923. US Navy photo NH 41740, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical.
R-4 907k R-4 (SS-81), crew in dress whites preparing to go ashore, circa 1920's.
A higher resolution (doctored photo) showing R-4 as the R-8 (SS-85) has been thoughtfully provided.
The letters were normally raised letters and these look too flat and even.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedman.
US Navy photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org & Robert Hurst.
Unknown Photos3.08kR boats at the sub base, Pearl Harbor, November 1925.
R-2 (SS-79), R-7 (SS-84), R-6 (SS-83), unknown, R-4 (SS-81) & R-5 (SS-82). The rest I could not identify.
The barracks ship, ex-Chicago (CL-14) is at the right of the photo.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Dave Johnston (USNR).
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman.
Sub Base Pearl Harbor152kThe crews of Submarine Divisions 9 & 14 line the decks of their boats (20 in all) at the Submarine base at Pearl Harbor on 12 December 1930.
R-1 (SS-78),
R-2 (SS-79),
R-3 (SS-80),
R-4 (SS-81),
R-5 (SS-82),
R-6 (SS-83),
R-7 (SS-84),
R-8 (SS-85),
R-9 (SS-86),
R-10 (SS-87),
R-11 (SS-88),
R-12 (SS-89),
R-13 (SS-90),
R-14 (SS-91),
R-15 (SS-92),
R-16 (SS-93),
R-17 (SS-94),
R-18 (SS-95),
R-19 (SS-96) &
R-20 (SS-97).
All the R-boats were to leave the base where they had been serving for upwards of 8 years and transfer to the East coast to be decommissioned over the next 3 years.
The only identifiable boat is the R-16.
US Navy photo by Tai Sing Loo, courtesy of E. Little.
SS 127 200k S-22 (SS-127), at New York City, circa the 1930s. Inboard submarines are (left-to-right):
R-1 (SS-78);
R-13 (SS-90) and
R-4 (SS-81).
Text courtesy of # NH 68899.
US Navy photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
SS 127 383k Submarines at New York City, circa the 1930s: These "boats" are, from left-to-right:
R-11 (SS-88),
R-13 (SS-90),
R-4 (SS-81) and
S-22 (SS-127).
Text courtesy of # NH 68898.
US Navy photo, courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
R-4 14k R-4 (SS-81), arriving at the Battery, in New York City, for the World's Fair, 29 April 1939. The mercantile tug Dalzellico is immediatley behind the boat. US Navy photo & text courtesy of Warship Int. Edition # 3, 1986.
Donaho 75k In 1940 and 1941 Lt. Glynn R. Donaho was Commanding Officer of the submarine R-4 (SS-81). When the United States entered World War II on 7 December 1941, Lieutenant Donaho was Prospective Commanding Officer of the new submarine Flying Fish (SS-229), which he placed in commission a few days later and operated with distinction during six war patrols in the Pacific. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander at the beginning of 1942 and to Commander in September of that year.
During 1944 and several months of 1945 he commanded both a submarine division and the submarine Picuda (SS-382), conducting further notably successful combat operations against Japanese shipping. Donaho finished the Pacific War as a battleship force staff officer.
He is pictured here as a Vice Admiral.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, # NH 99330, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center, submitted by Bill Gonyo.
Navy Yard 91k These World War submarines, [R-boats] tied up in the Navy Yard in Philadelphia for a dozen years, are being reconditioned and some are already in active service again, it was announced 10 January 1941. This picture shows them as they appeared before the repair program began. Photo & text courtesy of A.P. Wire courtesy of philly.com.
Pompano 401k This air view of Portsmouth Navy Yard taken just after the end of WW II shows the main shipbuilding shed which enabled construction to continue unimpeded by the Maine winters. The shed was widened to add two ways in 1941, and a fifth was squeezed in a year later. Drydocks No. 1 (left) & 2 (far right) contain six fleet submarines, while three R-boats are moored in the foreground.
The Pompano (SS-491) would have been under construction in the first ways on the left hand corner of the main shipbuilding shed.
Photo and partial text from The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy: A Design and Construction History, by John D. Alden.

View the R-4 (SS-81)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
PigBoats.COM TM A Historic Look at Submarines

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