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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Contributed by Don McGrogan, BMCS, USN (ret.)

S-34 (SS-139)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Papa - Charlie

S-18 Class Submarine: Laid down, 28 May 1918, at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., San Francisco, CA.; Launched, 13 February 1919; Commissioned, USS S-34 (SS-139), 12 July 1922; Decommissioned, 25 October 1922, at New London, CT.; Recommissioned, 23 April 1923, at New London; Decommissioned, 23 October 1945, at San Francisco, CA.; Struck from the Naval Register on 1 November 1945; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping on 23 November 1946. S-34 was awarded one battle star for her services in World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 854 t., Submerged: 1,062 t.; Length 219' 3" ; Beam 20' 8"; Draft 15' 11"(mean); Depth Limit 200'; Speed, Surfaced 14.5 kts, Submerged 11 kts; Complement, 4 Officers, 34 Enlisted; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes, one 4"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel-electric, New London Ship & Engine diesel engines, HP 1200, Fuel Capacity, 41,192 gals.; Electro Dynamic Co., electric motors, Battery Cells, 120, twin propellers.
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SS 135 - 46 113k The S-boat was the culmination of E.B. single-hull design for the U.S. Navy. This is a typical unit of the S-30-41 (SS-135-46) group, as completed. Ballast trunks are indicated. Lines below the hull show the location of the fuel tanks forward & aft (the foremost two tanks of the after group are the lubricating oil tank & sump tank). Arrows indicate the two Fessenden oscillators under the boat's keel, fore & aft. Arrows in the bridge structure indicate the three periscopes (one in the conning tower, soon removed) the telescoping radio mast & the radio tube leading down into the radio room.
In the control room the wheels controlling the planes were on the port side: the three levers for the Kingston valves were on the opposite side, abaft the chart table. The radio room, (below the radio tube, into which the antenna leads ran) was set into the after port side of the control room.
Abaft the main motors were auxiliaries: the low pressure main ballast pump on the center-line, the high pressure main ballast pump on the starboard shaft, the motor for the Fessenden oscillator on the port shaft.
Drawing by Jim Christley. Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
139 251k S-34 (SS-139) was sponsored by Miss Florence Hellman and launched on 13 February 1919. Image from Popular Science, June 1919, via wikipedia.org, courtesy of Robert Hurst.
SS 137-39 113k The small submarines were conceived as successors to WW I-built R & S-boat. Four first-generation Holland S-boats are shown, three of them identifiable, two with their radio masts raised: S-34 (SS-139), S-32 (SS-137) & S-33(SS-138). USN photo. Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
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.
S-34 550k ....For the next year and one-half, she remained based in southern California, then, in 1925, she was ordered to the Philippines. She departed from San Francisco in mid-April, arrived at the Submarine Base, Cavite, P.I., on 12 July; and, after voyage repairs and an overhaul, commenced operations as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet.
S-34 (SS-139) appears here on 15 April 1925 in San Francisco, westward bound.
Text courtesy of DANFS.
Photo # 80-CF-22980 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
S-31, S-35, S-33, S-34 54k From outboard to inboard, S-31 (SS-136), S-35 (SS-140), S-33 (SS-138), and S-34 (SS-139), probably in the Philippines. Vance Adams for his father, Lt. Vance Adams USN (deceased).
S-34 883k S-34 (SS-139) underway, date and location unknown. USN photo # 80-G-1006330 courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
S-34 252k S-34 (SS-139) comes into dock. USN photo # 80-G-22517 courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
S-30-35 122k Beaver (AS-5) at Olongapo, Philippines, with six submarines alongside, in March 1929. The submarines are (from front to rear):
S-32 (SS-137),
S-35 (SS-140),
S-30 (SS-135),
S-33 (SS-138),
S-31 (SS-136), &
S-34 (SS-139).
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 59967.
S-30-35 128k Submarines at Olongapo Naval Station, Philippines. Crewmen posing with a 4"/50 deck gun on board a "S-Type" submarine, March 1929, with another 4"/50 in the foreground. These submarines are probably S-30 (SS-135) and S-31 (SS-136).
Behind them are (from front to rear):
S-35 (SS-140),
S-33 (SS-138);
S-32 (SS-137);
and S-34 (SS-139).
Photographed from Beaver (AS-5). In the background is Pittsburgh (CA-4), in the Dewey drydock.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 51830.
SS 139 734k September 1933. VIEW OF THE MAIN SHIPYARD BERTHING. BY THIS DATE THE ORIGINAL 1010 DOCK (FACILITY B2) HAD BEEN EXTENDED AT EITHER END (FACILITIES B1 AND B3). THE SMALL BOAT LANDING (FACILITY N2) IS IN THE FOREGROUND. - U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor, Waterfront Facilities, Various locations throughout base, Pearl City, Honolulu County, HI.
Bow view of the S-34 (SS-139) tied up to wharf, taken in Pearl Harbor. The sub is getting a new battery. The new cells are loaded on the rail-cars to the right. Also, the S-34's skeg has been cut away as part of a safety and maintenance mod, and that was done in April, 1932.
The sub moored behind S-34 is the Argonaut (SS-166).
There is a boat moored outboard of the barge, aft of the first tug. It is a EB design R or S-class boat. My first impression was to go with R-class because the photo gives the impression of that boat being considerably smaller than the S-34. However, I downloaded the photo and blew it up as far as I could and a feature caught my eye. The superstructure forward of the conning tower fairwater appears to be too large and too high to be R-class. It reminded me a lot of the S-1 (SS-105), because she carried a unique superstructure configurtation from the rest of the EB S-boats. It was beefed up because she carried the seaplane hangar in the early part of her life. Although the details are blurry, compare it to some excellent pics that are on the S-1 page and you will see the similarity, and the divergence from the R-class. I would bet that this boat is the S-1. The appearance of looking smaller than the S-34 is probably a trick of angle and photography.
There are indeed TWO more submarines aft of the Argonaut, and both appear to be EB design S-class, but this is uncertain.
By the date of this photo, the Navy had just shifted over to a black paint scheme for all submarines. The Argonaut and the two unknown boats behind her have already gotten the new paint job. The S-34 and the S-1 still sported the haze gray scheme and probably would soon be painted.
Also notice all the way at the end of the pier is the minelayer Oglala (CM-4). She is the large ship with the opening in the stern and the two cylinders on her fantail.
LOC PHOTO # 219563pu, Title: Photocopy of photograph (original photograph located in the National Park Service, Arizona Memorial, 14th Naval District Photograph Collection), 14th ND C.W. No. P88-7864, courtesy of Steven Gower.
Photo i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USNR), Darryl Baker, John Hummel & Steven Gower.
Text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USNR) & Darryl Baker & Steven Gower.
S-34 110k S-34 (SS-139) entering Pearl Harbor, circa mid-1930's. USN photo # 19-N-17941, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
SS 127 & 134 95k S-22 (SS-127) is shown after a refit in Philadelphia, June 1941. She had already been modified for greater safety (completed in Portsmouth in November 1929) with special escape hatches fore & aft, & with two marker buoys (the forward buoy, nearly abeam the forward escape hatch, is shown in dashed lines.
The scrap view shows the after end of S-34 (SS-139) as it was in April 1932, after her safety refit.
Boats differed slightly in the way their skegs were cut down aft. On deck forward, note that a JK passive sonar was installed on top of the older SC; many boats had this modification either during the late 1930's or as refitted for war service. Many, but not all "Holland" S-boats were refitted for increased safety from 1929 on. Other boats were refitted in 1940-41, many at Philadelphia.
Drawing by Jim Christley. Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
Submarine Divison 9 20k Commemorative post mark on the occasion of the decommissioning of Submarine Division 9 on 7 December 1937. The subs appearing are:
S-30 (SS-135)
S-31 (SS-136)
S-32 (SS-137)
S-33 (SS-138)
S-34 (SS-139)
& S-35 (SS-140).
Courtesy of Jack Tretule.
S-23 73k An 1942 oil painting on board, by the artist William F. Draper entitled "Sub and Yippy Tie Up."
In a quiet inlet of the Bering Sea in 1942, a YP boat gets a coat of paint and an S-boat ties up for fuel and provisions. The short Alaskan day is ending and lights may be seen in the barracks until total darkness requires a blackout.
The S-boats that served in the Aleutians theater were:
S-18 (SS-123),
S-23 (SS-128),
S-27 (SS-132),
S-28 (SS-133),
S-30 (SS-135),
S-31 (SS-136),
S-32 (SS-137),
S-33 (SS-138),
S-34 (SS-139),
S-35 (SS-140),
S-36 (SS-141),
S-40 (SS-145),
S-41 (SS-146),
S-42 (SS-153),
S-44 (SS-155),
S-45 (SS-156),
S-46 (SS-157), &
S-47 (SS-158).
Sub and Yippy Tie Up by William F. Draper.
Painting #13 / 88-189-N. Courtesy of the USNHC.
Dutch Harbor 499k Submarine passing through Unalaska Ferry Channel during air raid alert, either S-34 (SS-139) or S-35 (SS-140). Photo & text i.d. courtesy of Dave Johnston, (USNR).
USN photo # 80-G-70446, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
S-34 811k S-34 (SS-139) fitting out at Dutch Harbor, 14 May 1942. Photo # 80-G-14017 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 10/31/16.
S-34 421k S-34 (SS-139) fitting out at Dutch Harbor, 14 May 1942.
Lt Commander Wogan on the navigation bridge.
Photo # 80-G-14018 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 10/31/16.
S-34 664k S-34 (SS-139) fitting out at Dutch Harbor, 14 May 1942. Photo # 80-G-14019 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 10/31/16.
S-34 781k Loading torpedoes on the S-34 (SS-139) at Dutch Harbor, 14 May 1942.
The SS Northwestern in the background was later the victim of a direct bomb hit by a Jap dive bomber.
Photo # 80-G-14096 & 80-G-14097 (insert) from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photos added 10/31/16.
S-34 624k Mechanical help loading torpedoes on the S-34 (SS-139) at Dutch Harbor, 14 May 1942. Photo # 80-G-14098 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 10/31/16.
S-34 888k The crew of the S-34 (SS-139) after their return from a cruise in emeny waters, Dutch Harbor, 14 May 1942. Photo # 80-G-14192 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 10/31/16.

View the S-34 (SS-139)
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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