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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

S-15 (SS-120)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - November - Bravo

S-4 Class Submarine (Government-type): Laid down, 13 December 1917, at Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, CT.; Launched, 8 March 1920; Commissioned, USS S-15 (SS-120), 15 January 1921; Decommissioned, 26 April 1935, at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up in the Reserve Fleet; Recommissioned, 3 January 1941; Decommissioned 11 June 1946, and struck from the Naval Register, 3 July 1946, at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA.; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 4 December 1946, to Potomac Shipwrecking Co., MD.
Partial data submitted by Yves Hubert.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 876 t., Submerged: 1092 t.; Length 231'; Beam 21' 10"; Draft 13' 1"; Speed, surfaced 15 kts, submerged 11 kts; Depth Limit 200'; Complement 4 Officers, 34 Enlisted; Armament, five 21" torpedo tubes, 14 torpedoes, one 4"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel electric engines, Maschinfabrik - Augsburg - Nurnburg, New York Navy Yard diesel engines, 2,000 hp, Fuel Capacity, 36,950 gal.; Westinghouse Electric Co., electric motors, 1,200 hp, Battery Cells, 120, twin propellers.
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439k The S-15 (SS-120) was sponsored by Mrs. Simon Lake at the Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, CT., 8 March 1920. Collection of the Society of Sponsors of the United States Navy, 1913-1923, pg 207.
S-15 191k S-15 (SS-120), dockside at Bridgeport, CT. 3 January 1921, 12 days before her commissioning, 15 January. USN photo 19-N-6478, courtesy of Scott Koen &
S-boats 589k The Rainbow (AS-7) while serving as flagship of Submarine Flotilla 3 (later Submarine Division) of the Asiatic Fleet. She is shown tending boats of Submarine Division 12 in either Hawaiian or Philippine waters in the 1921-1924 time range. Alongside are the S-14 (SS-119), S-15 (SS-120), and S-16 (SS-121). Photo & text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired)
USN photo thanks to Jim Kurrasch @ Battleship Iowa, Pacific Battleship Center.
S- boats etc 561k S-10 (SS-115) & S-15 (SS-120) in the foreground.
Behind them from right to left: O-1 (SS-62), O-4 (SS-65), O-2 (SS-63) & O-3 (SS-64). What appears to be another conning tower is behind the O-3. If so, and being that all the O-boats are together numerically, it might be the O-5 (SS-66), which would date the photo no later than 28 October 1923 when the O-5 sank after being rammed while entering Lemon Bay, Canal Zone, 28 October 1923, by United Fruit steamer Abangarez.
Photo by Arkivi/Getty Images via Getty Images, courtesy of
S Boats 62k S boats at the Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines, in 1923-1924. These submarines are (from left to right):
S-17 (SS-122):
S-4 (SS-109):
S-15 (SS-120); and
S-14 (SS-119).
USNHC photograph # NH 90306. Courtesy of Captain A.L. Prosser, USN (Retired), 1979.
S-9 & 15 544k Inscription on bottom of the photo reads:"Overhaul Period, Mare Island CA. Dock side view at Mare Island in 1929; the Ortolan (AM-45) and five of her charges, of which only two boats are identifiable: the S-9 (SS-114) & S-15 (SS-120). USN photo courtesy of Angie Mattke.
S-15 11k Commemorative post mark issued on the occasion S-15's (SS-120) first decommissioning, 26 April 1935, at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA. Photo & text courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Sculpin 81k Captain John P. Cromwell, USN photographed circa 1943. He commanded S-15 (SS-120) in 1936-1937, as a Lieutenant.
He was lost with Sculpin (SS-191) on 19 November 1943 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at that time.
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commander of a Submarine Coordinated Attack Group with Flag in the Sculpin, during the Ninth War Patrol of that vessel in enemy-controlled waters off Truk Island, November 19, 1943.
Undertaking this patrol prior to the launching of our first large-scale offensive in the Pacific, Captain Cromwell, alone of the entire Task Group, possessed secret intelligence information of our submarine strategy and tactics, scheduled Fleet movements and specific attack plans. Constantly vigilant and precise in carrying out his secret orders, he moved his underseas flotilla inexorably forward despite savage opposition and established a line of submarines to southeastward of the main Japanese stronghold at Truk. Cool and undaunted as the submarine, rocked and battered by Japanese depth-charges, sustained terrific battle damage and sank to an excessive depth, he authorized the Sculpin to surface and engage the enemy in a gun-fight, thereby providing an opportunity for the crew to abandon ship. Determined to sacrifice himself rather than risk capture and subsequent danger of revealing plans under Japanese torture or use of drugs, he stoically remained aboard the mortally wounded vessel as she plunged to her death.
Preserving the security of his mission at the cost of his own life, he had served his country as he had served the Navy, with deep integrity and an uncompromising devotion to duty. His great moral courage in the face of certain death adds new luster to the traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
This image was published in the book "United States Submarine Losses in World War II".
Medal of Honor citation for Captain John P. Cromwell (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 170):
USN photo # NH 51733, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
S-10 67k These O type and S type submarines which were used during the World War have since been decommissioned and are now laid up in the Phila. Navy Yard. The peaceful surroundings are quite a contrast to those of their active war days. They are pictured here on 17 July 1936.
The S-10 (SS-115) was decommissioned on the day this photo was taken at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA. and laid up in the Reserve Fleet.
Pictured also are any of the following boats that were at the PNY during this time.
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 S boats: S-6 (SS-111), S-7 (SS-112), S-8 (SS-113), S-9 (SS-114), 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).
Photo & text courtesy of A.P. Wire courtesy of
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)
Who Am I 878k Submarine maneuvers for pilot instruction. Submarine crusing, 24 July 1942.
This boat is a Government design S-boat. She is too long forward of the fairwater to be an EB design and the fairwater matches that of the Government boats. It could be any boat between S-11 (SS-116) and S-17 (SS-122) (those were the Government boats that served through WWII). It is not the S-48 (SS-159) as she had been extensively modified and did not look like this boat.
Photo & text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired)
USN photo # 80-G-1626 from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
S- boats etc 472k "For sale: one slightly used submarine", 19 November 1946.
"The 750-ton U.S. submarine S-15 (SS-120) (foreground), tied up at the Philadelphia Naval Base, will go on sale to the highest bidder tomorrow. Docked behind her is the Halibut (SS-232), another undersea vessel to be sold as surplus at a later date."
Photo courtesy of the George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photographs @

View the S-15 (SS-120)
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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