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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Patch contributed by Mike Smolinski

R-12 (SS-89)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Lima - Romeo

R-1 Class Submarine: Laid down, 28 March 1918, at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA.; Launched, 15 August 1919; Commissioned, USS R-12, 23 September 1919; Redesignated USS R-12 (SS-89), 17 July 1920; Decommissioned, 7 December 1932, at Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up in Atlantic Reserve Fleet; Recommissioned, 16 October 1940; Lost due to sinking, cause unconfirmed, 12 June 1943, with the loss of 42 officers and men; Struck from the Naval Register, 6 July 1943.
The R-12 was discovered on 10 October 2010 by Tim Taylor aboard his Research Vessel Tiburon. Click here to read about the discovery.

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.
In Memorium:

In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 20th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. submariners who died defending their county:

"When the waves of death compassed me / the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; / the bonds of She'ol encircled me; / the snares of death took me by surprise; / in my distress I called upon the Lord, / and cried to my G-D: / and he heard my voice out of his temple, / and my cry entered into his ears. / Then the earth shook and trembled; /the foundations of heaven moved / and shook because of his anger /...the heavy mass of waters, and thick clouds of the skies /... And the channels of the sea appeared, / the foundations of the world were laid bare, / at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast at the breath of his nostrils. / He sent from above, he took me; / he drew me out of many waters; / he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. / They surprised me in the day of my calamity: / but the Lord was my stay / He brought me forth also into a large place: / he delivered me because he delighted in me./"
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R-12 259k R-12 (SS-89) was sponsored by Miss Helen Mack, at the age of 6. She may be best remembered for the 1933 movie sequel The Son of Kong Photo courtesy of wikipedia
R-12 259k R-12 (SS-89) is launched 15 August 1919. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
The above picture shows some American sailormen at the Submarine Base, Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, making slight repairs on the microphones, or ears of the R-12 (SS-89), one of our latest submarines.
Image and text provided by University of Maryland, College Park, MD.
Photo & text by Evening Capital and Maryland Gazette. (Annapolis, Md.) 1910-1922, 24 September 1920, Image 4, courtesy of
R-11 791k U.S. Naval Station, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 26 October 1920. Submarines R-11 (SS-88) & R-12 (SS-89) in dry dock, looking south west. Photo submitted by Charles R. Hinman, Director of Education & Outreach,
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, & On Eternal Patrol
R-12 489k R-12 (SS-89) probably in the Canal Zone. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
R-12 324k Tic Tac Toe in the Pacific with the X marked R-12 (SS-89), R-16 (SS-93) [with the circle] & R-17 (SS-94) [with the triangle]. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
R-boats 412k Subs R U.S.
From right to left:
R-16 (SS-93),
R-18 (SS-95),
R-19 (SS-96),
R-12 (SS-89),
R-13 (SS-90),
R-11 (SS-88),
R-17 (SS-94),
R-20 (SS-97),
R-14 (SS-91) &
R-15 (SS-92)
Photo courtesy of David Wright.
R-12, 13 & 15 76k Tied up along the dock from right to left:
R-12 (SS-89),
R-15 (SS-92) and
R-13 (SS-90), probably in Pearl Harbor, circa 1920's.
USN photo # 19-N-10261, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
R-12 550k With an X on her conning tower, the R-12 (SS-89) gets underway, circa early 1920's & probably at Pearl Harbor. NARA photo courtesy of
R-12 52k Bow on view of the R-12 (SS-89) underway, circa early 1920's & probably at Pearl Harbor. Photo fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
USN photo courtesy of
R-12, 13, 15 & 9 40k Tied up along the dock from right to left:
R-12 (SS-89),
R-15 (SS-92),
R-13 (SS-90),
with R-9 (SS-86) and an unidentifed R-boat, probably in Pearl Harbor, circa mid 1920's.
Photo fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
USN photo # 19-N-10257, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
R-boats 118k Circa early 1920's at Pearl Harbor. What looks to be the R-15 (SS-92) on the left, R-12 (SS-89) in the middle and R-19 (SS-96). The mast of what might be the former cruiser Chicago, now a barracks ship under the classification IX-5, lies to the right of the R-19.USN photo courtesy of
R-12 1.30k R-12 (SS-89) in a harbor, during the 1920s or early 1930s. Note the large "X" painted on this submarine's fairwater. USNHC photograph # NH 41517.
Sub Base Pearl Harbor292kThe 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.
USN photo by Tai Sing Loo, courtesy of E. Little.
Philadelphia Navy Yard 2.49k Philadelphia Navy Yard, 28 October 1940.
The photo presented panorama military shipyards in Philadelphia Navy Yard. Most of the ships are obsolete US destroyers, that were transfer to Great Britain under lend lease.
The submarines are on the left hand side of the photo, and they are: (in no particular order)
The O boats:O-1 (SS-62), O-2 (SS-63), O-3 (SS-64), O-6 (SS-67), O-7 (SS-68), O-8 (SS-69), O-9 (SS-70), O-10 (SS-71).
The R boats: R-1 (SS-78), R-2 (SS-79), R-3 (SS-80), 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-12 (SS-89), R-15 (SS-92), R-16 (SS-93), R-17 (SS-94), R-18 (SS-95), R-19 (SS-96) & R-20 (SS-97).
The S boats: S-11 (SS-116), S-12 (SS-117), S-13 (SS-118), S-14 (SS-119), S-15 (SS-120), S-16 (SS-121), S-17 (SS-122) & S-48 (SS-159).
The Olympia (C-6) is shown at the right of the wharf on Broad Street.
The stadium in the upper left, was John F. Kennedy Stadium (formally Philadelphia Municipal Stadium)that stood from 1926 to 1992. It was erected for the 1926 Sesquicentennial.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Ron Reeves (of blessed memory).
Photo courtesy of
Lower resolution photo. (548k)
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 fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
Photo & text courtesy of A.P. Wire courtesy of
R-12 627k R-12 (SS-89) underway, April 1942, when she commenced patrols & operated primarily from Guantanamo Bay and Key West. USN photo # 80-G-7251 from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
R-12 799k R-12 (SS-89) underway, April 1942, when she commenced patrols & operated primarily from Guantanamo Bay and Key West. USN photo # 80-G-7252 from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
R-boats 95k R-12 (SS-89) underway, circa early 1920's at Pearl Harbor.
Text of photo reads: Submarine R-12 lost as the result of an accident which occurred during training exercises, the U.S. submarine R-12 took several men and officers down with her when she sank off the East Coast recently. The depth of the water makes it impossible to salvage the vessel and all hope for recovery of the bodies of the missing personnel has been abandoned. Although no figures on casualties were released, the R-12 carried a normal complement of 28 officers and men, some of whom survived.
Photo fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
Official USN photo from ACME, New York Bureau, dated 6-26-43, courtesy of Bill Gonyo.
R-12 65k Google Earth satellite photo of the Florida Keys area, where the R-12 (SS-89) was lost. View courtesy of Google Earth.
R-12 65k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the R-12 (SS-89).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via
Tolling the Boats 117k Joyce DaSilva, the wife of Jesse DaSilva of the Tang (SS-306), one of the nine survivors of the boat, tosses a flower into a reflecting pool to honor the memory of one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II at the National Submarine Memorial-West on board Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. On this Veterans Day, the Submarine Veterans of World War II transferred ownership of the memorial to the U.S. Navy.

The following text is from The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton., pg. 478.
"Major Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island was killed in the battle, and just before it he had wrote to his wife, Sarah, to tell her that he believed he was going to be killed and to express a tremulous faith that could see a gleam of light in the dark:
"But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and float unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the gladdest days and in the gloomiest nights, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your chest it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait, for we shall meet again!"
Text i.d. courtesy of Marlynn Starring. Text i.d. courtesy of Marlynn Starring. Photo i.d. courtesy of Chuck Senior, Vice Commander, Los Angeles-Pasadena Base, USSVI.
USN photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of
R-12 462k Photo of R-12 (SS-89) deckgun at a depth of 600 feet, May 2011. Photo courtesy of via Ron Reeves (of blessed memory).
1.57k Memorial plaque dedicated to the R-12 (SS-89) at the Waterfront Memorial, Honolulu. Photo courtesy: Jay C. Viajero via Yu Chu.

View the R-12 (SS-89)
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
On Eternal Patrol
PigBoats.COM TM A Historic Look at Submarines
NY Explorers Discover WWII Submarine
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