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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

S-49 (SS-160)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Papa - Xray

S-48 Class Submarine: Laid down, 22 October 1920, at Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, CT.; Launched, 23 April 1921; Commissioned, USS S-49 (SS-160), 5 June 1922, at Bridgeport, CT.; Decommissioned, 2 August 1927, at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, League Island, PA; Struck from the Naval Register, 21 March 1931; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 25 May 1931, to Boston Iron and Metal Co., Baltimore, MD.

Following repairs, S-49 (SS-160) resumed operations off the New England coast; and, during January of 1927, moved south with S-50 (SS-161), for exercises and tests off Key West, the Dry Tortugas, and in Tampa Bay, Florida. On 12 March, S-49 returned to the United States Naval Submarine Base at New London/Groton, Connecticut...whence she completed a run to the Portsmouth Navy Yard at Kittery, Maine; and back to New London/Groton...then transited to the Philadelphia Navy Yard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with S-50, for inactivation. Arriving on 31 March, S-49 was decommissioned on 2 August 1927 and berthed with other reserve ships in the Back Channel of the Philadelphia Navy Yard...until struck from the Navy List on 21 March accordance with the London Treaty. S-49 was sold to the Boston Iron and Metal Company at Baltimore, Maryland, on 25 May 1931. Reduced to a hulk (read "demilitarized") by that company in 1936, but not scrapped, the S-boat was sold to an organization that operated the submarine as an "attraction." The submarine visited many ports in the United States and was "inspected" by interested people who toured through that submersible when she was open to visitors.

During the Second World War, the former S-49 was reacquired by the United States Navy "as equipment" for use in experimental work at the United States Naval Mine Warfare Test Station at Solomons, known as the United States Naval Air Station, Patuxent River...Solomons Facility. Shortly after being towed to Solomons from Baltimore (where the Navy had reacquired the submarine), the former S-49 foundered off Point Patience in the Patuxent River on 16 December 1942 and sank in 102 feet of water at: Position: Latitude 38 Degrees 19' 53.2" North Longitude 76 Degrees 29' 17.2" West or, on a bearing of 318.5 Degrees True, distant 525 yards, from the southern tip of Point Patience. The S-boat has remained on the bottom at that position to the present day...and is visited, on occasion, by Navy and recreational divers.
Courtesy of R. S. Rayfield, Jr. Major, USMC (Retired)

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 903 t., Submerged: 1,230 t.; Length 240'; Beam 21' 10"; Draft 13' 6"; Depth Limit 200'; Speed, surfaced 14.5 kts, submerged 11 kts; Complement 4 Officers 34 Enlisted; Armament, five 21" torpedo tubes, 16 torpedoes, one 4"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel electric engines, Busch Sulzer Brothers Diesel Engine Co., diesel engines, HP 1800; Fuel Capacity 44,350 gal.; Ridgeway Dynamo & Electric Co., electric motors, HP 1500, Battery cells 120, twin propellers.
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NR Sponsor of Largest Submarine
Mrs. Austin, wife of Captain Joseph V. Austin, of Bridgeport, Conn., was sponsor when the S-49 (SS-160), the largest submarine of the United States navy, was launched at Bridgeport... Mrs. Austin is seen here just before the craft started down the ways.
Image and text provided by University of North Texas; Denton, TX.
Photo from Brownsville Herald. [volume] (Brownsville, Tex.) 1910-current, 18 May 1921, Image 1, via
546k Sponsor of U.S. S-49 (SS-160) during launching. Image NH 108459 and text courtesy of
S-49 588k NEW SUBMARINE S-49 (SS-160) LAUNCHED LAST WEEK AT BRIDGEPORT, CONN. Image and text provided by The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation.
Photo from The Evening World.(New York, N.Y.) 1887-1931, 26 April 1921, Wall Street Final Edition, Image 21, via
S-49 163k S-49 (SS-160) was a Lake-built government-type S-boat, modified while under construction to incorporate a single after torpedo tube. Note also the gun access trunk forward of the conning tower fairwater, which replaced the ready ammunition stowage of the first series of "government" S-boats. She was lengthened to 240 feet to provide both a maneuvering room & a torpedo room aft. Displacement increased from 876 tons (surfaced) / 1092 (submerged) to 903/1230.
Note the blister of the passive MV system forward, just under the circular patch of her Fessenden oscillator. Also note the separate maneuvering room inserted between the engine room & the after torpedo room, above the motors.
The entire battery is forward, under the space between the forward torpedo room and the control room. Note the kinked (discontinuous) pressure hull, with large diameter sections at the ends, which require heavier & more elaborate structure to support it.
Drawing by Jim Christley.
Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
S-49 49k Reginald Fessenden and his electric oscillator. Photo courtesy of, courtesy of
R-24 134k PDF entitled "How the Diesel engine came to America." Photo courtesy of
S-49 651k How antennae is gradually being eliminated. Above, submarine S-49 (SS-160) with low aerial. Image and text provided by University of Utah, Marriott Library.
Photo from The Ogden Standard-Examiner. (Ogden, Utah) 1920-current, 26 April 1922, LAST EDITION - 4 P. M., Image 2, via
S-49 NR Three Rousing Cheers Given As Sub S-49's (SS-160) Ensign Was Raised To Masthead Image and text provided by Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT.
Photo from The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer. (Bridgeport, Conn.) 1918-1924, 06 June 1922, Image 6, via
S-49 NR America's newest & largest submarine, the S-49 (SS-160), which having withstood all tests, will soon enter active service. Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from The New York Herald. (New York, N.Y.) 1920-1924, 11 June 1922, SECTION FIVE, Image 60, via
SS 160 578k Commissioned at Bridgeport, S-49 (SS-160) remained there through July, and, in August, moved down to the Submarine Base at New London where she joined Submarine Division Zero, composed of units engaged in submarine research and development. Later reassigned to Division 4 and then to Division 2, she continued experimental work, including aerial visibility tests and torpedo development, and also participated in regularly scheduled exercises, primarily in the New London area, into 1926.
S-49 with decks awash on 14 August 1923.
Text courtesy of DANFS.
USN photo # 80-CF-WT-779, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
S-49 115k S-49 (SS-160) underway, circa Winter 1925, note ice covering the clearing lines. USN photo from DANFS contributed by Joe Radigan, MACM, USN Ret.
S-49 100k S-49 (SS-160) starboard view underway, January 1926 possibly off New London CT, or Portsmouth, NH. USN photo # 80-G-1025021, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
S-49 191k Commemorative photo honoring the memory of the crew of the S-49 (SS-160), 20 April 1926. Photo courtesy of Raymond Fritz. ET1(SS).
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-49 153k Starboard view of the S-49 (SS-160) in 1927. USN photo courtesy of Ric Hedman /
S-49 530k View of submarine S-49 (SS-160) at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, 5 April 1927.
"These submarines have probably made their last sea trip. The "Sub" S-49, with part of her conning tower and after deck showing, is seen at lower right, and the "Sub" S-50 (SS-161), airing her flags, at the end of Pier 3, Philadelphia Navy Yard. They arrived last week from New London, Conn. They are sister craft of the S-51 (SS-162) which was rammed and sunk by a steamer at night off Block Island in September 1925, with the loss of thirty-three members of its crew. The new arrivals will be put out of commission. One of the Navy Yard's huge traveling cranes is showing in upper left of photograph."
Photo courtesy of the George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photographs @
S-49 498k 5 Undated views of S-49 (SS-160) underway. Source: US Naval History Heritage and Command, Photo # NH 1374 & NH 108462 / 108465 via Mike Green.
SS 160 791k S-49 (SS-160), privately owned sub open to the public at Point-o-Pines in Revere, August 1931. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert &
1.91k Submarine S-49 (SS-160) And Italian Pavilion At The Century Of Progress
A view from the Science Bridge shows the Submarine S-49 parked in front of the Italian Pavilion at the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago, Illinois (1933). The Century of Progress was the World's Fair held in Chicago to celebrate the city's centennial with a focus on technological innovation and a theme of 'Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts.' The image originally appeared in 'A Century of Progress Exposition - Chicago, 1933' (published by A Century of Progress Exposition).
Photo by Bettmann Archive via Getty Images courtesy of
S-49 39k S-49 (SS-160) as a attraction at the Great Lakes Exposition 1936. The "C" on the bow is to identify the submarine as a "Civilian" vessel. She was reputed to have been painted yellow as well. USN photo & text courtesy of Ric Hedman /
SS 160 1.14k Watermarked S-49 (SS-160), 29 January 1936 at Chicago Expo. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves (of blessed memory).
S-49 269k The S-49 (SS-160) at the Great Lakes Exposition in 1936 & 1937. Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp &
S-49 188k The Central Operating Compartment of the S-49 (SS-160). Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
S-49 174k The Engine Room of the S-49 (SS-160). Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
S-49 182k The Torpedo Room of the S-49 (SS-160). Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
Who Am I676k26 APRIL 1938: Submarine which cost $2;500;000 visits Toronto. Capt. Francis J. Chrestensen arrived in Toronto yesterday aboard his one-time U.S. navy submarine; and his wife arrived by automobile. He admitted he didn't know anything about underwater craft until he bought his own. She insists she'll never know about them; follows him everywhere by car. The submarine cruised across Lake Ontario yesterday to come to rest at the foot of York St.; where it was welcomed by this crowd. It cost $2;500;000 when it was constructed 17 years ago. The 240-foot submarine was commissioned by the U.S. under the London naval agreement. It was once able to fire $6;500 torpedoes from four tubes. Should Capt. Chrestensen take it into his head his ship could go down 300 feet below the surface with ease. Photo i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedman.
Photo by Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images, courtesy of
580k S-49 (SS-160) during her time as a museum, dated on back of photo 30 May 1938. Photo courtesy of David Wright.
S-49 116k S-49 (SS-160) on the Delaware River, 1939. Photo courtesy of David A. Boone.
S-49 84k Two views of the wreck:
15 December 2006 side-scan of the S-49 (SS-160) looking downwards; one can see the very distinct shadow effect - and the conning tower of the sub on 11 December 2011.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Morris and Steve Bilicki from Azulmar Research, LLC.
Text courtesy of Dr. Douglas Camp. &

View the S-49 (SS-160)
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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