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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

R-20 (SS-97)

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Romeo - Zulu

R-1 Class Submarine: Laid down, 4 June 1917, at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.; Launched, 21 January 1918; Commissioned, USS R-20, 26 October 1918; Redesignated USS R-20 (SS-97), 17 July 1920; Decommissioned, 15 May 1931, at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up at League Island; Recommissioned, 22 January 1941. at New London, CT.; Decommissioned, 27 September 1945 at Portsmouth, NH; Struck from the Naval Register, 11 October 1945; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 13 March 1946, to Macey O. Scott, Miami FL.
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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R-boats 1.79k Construction of Uncle Sam's latest type of Submarine Class R, 6 March 1918.
Six R boats under constructions at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.
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 three boats closest to the camera are numbered on their sterns 16, 17 & 18. The other three boats viewed bow on can't be identified.
National Archives Identifier: 55173460
Local Identifier: 111-SC-006278.
Photo courtesy of
SS 97608kR-20 (SS-97), launched at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. Lt'd, Union Plant San Francisco on 21 January 1918. The left insert is a picture of the ship's sponsor, Mrs. Arnold Foster. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
SS 9797k R-20 (SS-97) taken in 1918, probably at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. Lt'd, Union Plant San Francisco. U.S. Navy photo.
SS 97123k R-20 (SS-97) possibly in the Thames River near New London CT., between April - June 1941. Text courtesy of DANFS.
USN photo courtesy of
SS 92-9787k Beaver (AS-5) at anchor off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, with six submarines alongside, circa late 1918.
R-17 (SS-94),
R-20 (SS-97),
R-15 (SS-92),
R-16 (SS-93),
R-18 (SS-95) &
R-19 (SS-96).
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 56366.
SS 92-971.30k Beaver (AS-5) in port, circa 1919, with R-20 (SS-97) & R-17 (SS-94) along side. Photo i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedman.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 56364 via Robert Hurst.
SS 9763k R-20 (SS-97) with the R-16 (SS-93) in the background taken from the deck of the R-14 (SS-91) off the shores of Hawaii circa 1920's. Photo courtesy of Ric Hedman.
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.
Photo added 02/01/18.
R-20 1.36k R-20 (SS-97) in Pearl Harbor circa 1924/25.
My Great Grandfather was a Major in the 13th Field Artillery and had some sort of involvement in the tactical development of submarine warfare taking place with the R-Classes while assigned to Schofield Barracks under the Hawaiian Division. There is a picture of him on the submarine (Major Ralph Hospital).
Photo courtesy of Brendan B. Finnegan.
R-20 2.17k R-20 (SS-97) in Pearl Harbor circa 1924/25. Photo courtesy of Brendan B. Finnegan.
Unknown Photos3.08kR & S boats at the sub base, Pearl Harbor, November 1925. The barracks ship, ex-Chicago (CL-14) is at the right of the photo. Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman.
R-20 776k Four submarines docked at Pearl Harbor, circa summer 1927: foreground is the S-16 (SS-121), R-3 (SS-80), R-4 (SS-81) & at the right background, is another submarine with 3 vertical stripes, the R-20 (SS-97). Photo & text i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedman.
Photo by Bettmann / Getty Images, courtesy of
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 417k These World War submarines, [O & 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.
From Left to right: O-3 (SS-64), unknown, R-1 (SS-78), R-7 (SS-84), R-20 (SS-97), R-19 (SS-96) & R-17 (SS-94).
Photo courtesy of the George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photographs @
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-20 (SS-97)
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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