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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

S-21 (SS-126)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - November - Kilo

S-21 served both the US and British Navies

S-18 Class Submarine (Holland-type): Laid down, 19 December 1918, at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy MA.; Launched, 18 June 1920; Commissioned, USS S-21 (SS-126), 24 August 1921; Decommissioned: 31 March 1922 to return to her builder; Recommissioned 14 September 1923; In commission in reserve from 18 November 1932 to 24 January 1934; Decommissioned, and transferred to the United Kingdom, 14 September 1942; Commissioned in to the Royal Navy as HMS P 553; Returned to US Navy custody, 11 July 1944; Struck from the Naval Register, (date unknown); Final Disposition, sunk as a sonar target off northern New England, 23 March 1945.
Partial data submitted by Yves Hubert.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 854 t., Submerged: 1062 t.; Length 219' 3" ; Beam 20' 8"; Draft 15' 11"(mean); Speed, Surfaced 14.5 kts, Submerged 11 kts; Depth Limit 200'; Complement 4 officers, 34 enlisted; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes, one 4"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel electric. New London Ship and Engine Co, diesel engines, 1200 hp; Fuel Capacity, 41,921 gal.; Ridgeway Dynamo and Electric Co. electric motors, 1500 hp, Battery Cells 120, twin propellers.
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SS-1261.32k5 photo PDF of the S-21 (SS-126) showing Cover Sheet, Profile Inboard; Profile Outboard, Battery Deck, & Sections.National Archives Identifier: 70646206
Photo courtesy of
T-2 885k AA-2 (SS-60), S-22 (SS-127), S-21 (SS-126) & S-23 (SS-128) at Fore River Ship Yard, 4 January 1921. US National Archives photo # 19lc 3 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
S-21, 23 & 26 105k Tied up along the dock from left to right: S-21 (SS-126), S-23 (SS-128) and S-26 (SS-131) at Groton CT., 4 May 1923. USN photo # 19-N-10270, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
S-21, 31 & 34 92k Tied up along the dock from left to right: S-21 (SS-126), S-34 (SS-139) and S-31 (SS-136) at Groton CT., 9 June 1923. USN photo # 19-N-10269, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
US Fleet Problem Number VI 1.72k Control Force Employment Schedule, 4 January to 1 March 1926. US Fleet Problem Number VI. Photo courtesy of Steve Ireland.
S-9 731k All the boats in the image are S-boats.
On the left is the S-9 (SS-114). The next is probably S-24 (SS-129). All of the rest are 20 series boats. The boat in the background IS NOT the S-2 (SS-106). It is a 20 series like the others. The last digit in the boat's name is obscured by the torpedo davit on the boat in the middle.
As for a location, the pier in the background looks like some images I have seen of San Pedro, California. Although the fact that this came from the New York Daily News Archive seems to indicate the Brooklyn Navy Yard or some location in the city.
I can't see the stern of any of the boats. This helps in dating the photo. It appears that the aft skeg of the S-24 is still in place and there are no post S-4 (SS-109) safety modifications so this would indicate that the photo was taken in the mid to late 1920's, but this is only a rough guess.
Photo & text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston
Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images, courtesy of
S-21 74k The Presidential review off the Atlantic coast saw a number of boats underway. Included in this photo is the S-21 (SS-126) with crew lining the rails and operating with another S-boat, probably S-23 (SS-128), in the Atlantic, 4 June 1927. USN photo # 19-N-11056, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
S-19 78k S-19 (SS-124) underway with other S-boats, S-21 (SS-126), S-23 (SS-128), during the Presidential review somewhere in the Atlantic ocean, 4 June 1927. USN photo # 19-N-11053, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
SS 21 452k Aerial view of sub: The S-21 (SS-126) possibly duiring the Presidential review somewhere in the Atlantic ocean, 4 June 1927. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert &
S-21 201k S-21 (SS-126), circa 1927 at Coco Solo, Panama C.Z. Caption on back of picture reads "The last of the palms. Photo courtesy of Bill Faulk via
SS 126
NR Secretary Wilbur inspects the submarine S-21 (SS-126) and scientific equipment to be used in charting the contour of the sea bottom. He is shown with group on board the submarine at the Navy Yard. Left to right: Admiral Hughes, Secretary Wilbur, Lieut. Fisher, commander of the S-21, and Dr. F. A. Vening Meinesz, the Dutch scientist who will direct the work in the Caribbean Sea. Star Staff Photo.
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 02 October 1928, Image 17, via
S-21, 23 & 26
516k Circa 1930's photo of the S-21 (SS-126) underway with a 4 stack destroyer in the background. USN photo thanks to Jim Kurrasch @ Battleship Iowa, Pacific Battleship Center.
S-21 71k Portside view of the S-21 (SS-126) off Pearl Harbor, circa 1930-38. USN photo by Tai Sing Loo, courtesy of
refleting 1.95k S-boats top and bottom as in a reflecting pool, probably at Pearl Harbor when they operated with Division 7, circa 1931-33. S-21 (SS-126), S-22 (SS-127), S-23 (SS-128) & what was thought to be S-24 (SS-129).
On 25 April 1931, S-22 & S-23 arrived together at Pearl Harbor.
If you look closely at the outboard one (on the far left) the fairings that cover the bow plane pivots are rounded. On the other boats in this photo these fairings are angular in shape. The angular fairings are a distinctive characteristic of the Quincy built 20 series S-boats (S-18) to (29). For the Union Iron Works built boats (S-30) to (41) this fairing is rounded and smaller in size. The only exception to this rule is the (S-19). She alone amongst the Quincy boats had the rounded fairings of the UIW boats (why I donít know yet). Therefore, the outboard boat in this photo can not be the (S-24). It has to be (S-19) or (30) to (41).
Text & photo i.d. courtesy of David Johnston
USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
S-21 15k Commemorative postal cover marking the S-21 (SS-126) when she was placed in reserve commission. From 1931 into 1938, S-21 operated from Pearl Harbor, with the period 18 November 1932 to 24 January 1934 spent in reserve. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
T-2 255k S-21 (SS-126) at Pearl Harbor dry dock, 1934. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves (of blessed memory).
HMS P 553
S-21 80k HMS P.553, ex-S-21 (SS-126) in the process of diving, circa 14 September 1942 / 11 July 1944, while she was transferred to Britan. USN photo courtesy of Erminio Bagnasco book, "Submarines of WW II", submitted by Robert Hurst.
S-21 24k High-resolution side sonar scan of S-21 (SS-126) on the floor of the Atlantic, off New Hampshire, 2009.
The boat was recently located by Joe Cushing.
Photo by Garry Kozak, courtesy of via the

View the S-21 (SS-126) DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

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