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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch contributed by Don McGrogan, BMCS, USN (ret.)

V-7 (SF-10 / SC-3)
Dolphin (SS-169)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Charlie - Zulu

Dolphin Class Submarine: Authorized as V-7 (SF-10), re-designated (SC-3), Laid down, as V-7 (SC-3),14 June 1930, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H.; Launched, 6 March 1932; Commissioned USS Dolphin (SS-169), 1 July 1932; Decommissioned, 12 October 1945, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, NH; Struck from the Naval Register, 24 October 1945; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 26 August 1946. Dolphin earned 2 battle stars for her service during World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,560 t., Submerged: 2,215 t.; Length 319' 1" ; Beam 27' 11"; Draft 13' 1"; Speed, surfaced 17 kts, submerged 8 kts; Depth Limit 250'; Complement 5 officers 52 enlisted; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes forward, two 21" torpedo tubes aft, 18 torpedoes; one 4"/50 deck gun, four 30 cal. mgs.; Propulsion, diesel electric, Maschinfabrik - Augusburg- Nurnburg, New York Navy Yard diesel engines, hp 3500, Fuel Capacity, 103,018 gal., Electro Dynamic Electric Motor Co., electric motors, hp 1750, Battery Cells 240, twin propellers.
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SS-169 54k Driving of first rivet in laying of keel of submarine V-7 (SC-3), later renamed Dolphin (SS-169) at the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Naval Shipyard, 14 June 1930. USN photo courtesy of Milne Collection at the University of New Hampshire.
SS 169 137k Dolphin's (SS-169) LH GEN Engine, June 1931. Photo No. f128c211 from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archive - courtesy National Archive and Records Administration, Northeast Region - NYC, Record Group 181 via flicker.com.
SS 169 179k Dolphin's (SS-169) Main Engine LH, August 1931. Photo No. f128c230 from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archive - courtesy National Archive and Records Administration, Northeast Region - NYC, Record Group 181 via flicker.com.
SS 169 220k Dolphin's (SS-169) Starboard Main Engine 6-A-20 7/8-R 1750 BHP AT 380 RPM, ready for shipment, August 1931. Photo No. f128c235 from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archive - courtesy National Archive and Records Administration, Northeast Region - NYC, Record Group 181 via flicker.com.
SS 165 283k The Dolphin (SS-169) stands on the launching ways on 6 March 1932. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert & flickr.com.
SS 165 580k The Dolphin (SS-169) launching. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert & flickr.com.
SS 169 153k Dolphin's (SS-169) crew line the deck, possibly during her commissioning on 1 July 1932. USN photo courtesy of Megan Edwards.
SS 169 70k Most probably a Division photo of Dolphin's (SS-169) Machinist Mates. USN photo courtesy of Megan Edwards. Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Ric Hedman & Col. John Hart.
SS 169 392k Looking down from the Dolphin's (SS-169) fairwater at Portsmouth Navy Yard before entering the Dry Dock, 30 September 1932. USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski.
SS 169 265k Port side view showing open torpedo tubes and diving planes housed while in Dry Dock in Portsmouth Navy Yard, 30 September 1932. USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski.
SS 169 313k Bow view while in Dry Dock at Portsmouth Navy Yard, 30 September 1932.
Dolphin (SS-169) sailed from Portsmouth 24 October 1932 for San Diego arriving 3 December to report to Submarine Division 12. She served on the west coast, taking part in tactical exercises and test torpedo firings until 4 March 1933 when she got underway for the east coast.
Partial text courtesy of DANFS. USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski. Neg # 269/32.
SS 169 295k Quarter view showing rigging while in Dry Dock at Portsmouth Navy Yard, 30 September 1932.
USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski.
SS 169 301k Stern view showing her two torpedo tubes while in Dry Dock at Portsmouth Navy Yard, 30 September 1932.
USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski. Neg # 277/32.
SS 169 361k Close up of the starboard side from floor of Dry Dock showing docking keel blocks at Portsmouth Navy Yard, 30 September 1932.
USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski. Neg # 279/32.
SS-169 82k Dolphin (SS-169) underway, circa 1932. NH # 54542, courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
SS 169 105k Dolphin (SS-169) appears to be in the Panama Canal.
She sailed from Portsmouth 24 October 1932 for San Diego arriving 3 December to report to Submarine Division 12.
Patial text courtesy of DANFS.
USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
SS 169 178k Bridge looking forward, Portsmouth Navy Yard, 4 July 1933. USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski. Neg # 187/33.
SS 169 240k Bridge (in-closed) looking forward, Portsmouth Navy Yard, 4 July 1933.
An object in the background caught the eye of Dave Johnston (USNR). It spurred a flurry of emails as he ran it by Ric Hedman and Jim Christley and they came up with the following conclusions:
The large circular object on top of Dolphin's bridge is most likely a watertight storage tub for large 4x35 non-folding prism mirror long spyglasses. Originally thought to be too large and clumsy to be quickly taken below in the advent of a crash dive, a watertight storage solution topside was sought and this is what the designers came up with. The Officer of the Deck and lookout(s) would quickly stash their spyglasses in this tub, shut and dog the lid, then proceed below upon the start of a dive. Rapid refinements in optical technology resulted in the introduction of smaller, lightweight 7x50 binoculars and the need for such a tub in this position on the bridge quickly faded. The only other boat to be seen with such a structure so far is Cuttlefish (SS-171) so it may have been one of those features that (as Jim Christley put it) "seemed like a good idea at the time", but was later shown to be unnecessary.
Other ideas for the tub included a brass watertight housing for a magnetic compass. This was suggested by Ric Hedman, based on his experience with a similar structure on a Russian submarine. However it was pointed out that the magnetic compass is located directly behind the helm wheel, evidenced by the flip lid on the vertical column where the compass rose would be read, and the presence of the two steel compensating spheres on either side of this column.
Dave Johnston speculated that the tub might be storage for a blinker/searchlight, but this is unlikely due to the lack of this feature on any other boat except Cuttlefish.
Jim correctly pointed out that we may never know for sure what it is, unless some old salt can point to it and say, "Yep that thing is a..."
Photo & text i.d. courtesy of Jim Christley, Ric Hedman & Dave Johnston (USNR).
USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski. Neg # 188/33.
SS 169 342k Conning tower, fairwater & bell of the Dolphin (SS-169) on 5 July 1933. She arrived at Portsmouth Navy Yard 23 March for final trials and acceptance, remaining there until 1 August. Partial text courtesy of DANFS. USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski.
SS 169 304k View looking aft, Portsmouth Navy Yard, 5 July 1933. USN photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski. Neg # 178/33.
SS 169 147k Color post card of pre war Dolphin (SS-169). Photo courtesy of Arnold Putnam.
SS 165 & 169 557k Bonita (SS-165) & Dolphin (SS-169) at Balboa, Panama Canal, 1934. Photo i.d. courtesy of Dave Johnston (USNR).
Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Image, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/20/16.
SS 169 91k Ice cold Dolphin (SS-169) alongside the Alaska coast on her voyage to the far North during July 1934.
She cruised on the west coast with occasional voyages to Pearl Harbor, Alaska, and the Canal Zone for exercises and fleet problems.
USN photo courtesy of Megan Edwards. Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
SS-169 56k Commemorative postal cover marking the Dolphin's (SS-169) Alaska cruise in July, 1934. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle.
SS-169 113kHolland (AS-3) at anchor during the 1930s, with Barracuda (SS-163) tied up to her port side. Dolphin (SS-169) is partially visible, tied to Holland's starboard side. USNHC photo # NH 65018.
SS-170,169.163,164,165,168 & 167 86k Holland (AS-3), with seven submarines alongside, in San Diego harbor, California, 24 December 1934. The submarines are (from left to right):
Cachalot (SS-170);
Dolphin (SS-169);
Barracuda(SS-163);
Bass (SS-164);
Bonita (SS-165);
Nautilus (SS-168); and
Narwhal (SS-167).
Official USN photo # 80-G-63334, now in the collections of the National Archives. Photo courtesy of the USNHC.
Navy Day 78k Commemorative postal cover marking:
Bass (SS-164);
Dolphin (SS-169);
Porpoise (SS-172);
Argonaut (SS-169);
Nautilus (SS-168);
Cuttlefish (SS-171)
Barracuda (SS-163);
Narwhal (SS-167)
Bonita (SS-165); &
Cachalot (SS-170)
on Navy Day, 27 October 1935.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
SS-172 119k Holland (AS-3) with seven submarines alongside, circa 1936-1939. These "boats" are, from left to right:
Nautilus (SS-168);
Narwhal (SS-167);
Shark (SS-174), marked "P3";
Dolphin (SS-169), marked "D1";
Porpoise (SS-172), marked "P1";
Pike (SS-173), marked "P2"; and
Tarpon (SS-175), marked "P4".
NH # 3036, courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
SS-172 82k Holland (AS-3) with seven submarines alongside, circa 1936-1939. These "boats" are, from left to right:
Nautilus (SS-168);
Narwhal (SS-167);
Shark (SS-174), marked "P3";
Dolphin (SS-169), marked "D1";
Porpoise (SS-172), marked "P1";
Pike (SS-173), marked "P2"; and
Tarpon (SS-175), marked "P4".
NH # 3037, courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
SS-172 90k Holland (AS-3) with seven submarines alongside, circa 1936-1939. These "boats" are, from left to right:
Nautilus (SS-168);
Narwhal (SS-167);
Shark (SS-174), marked "P3";
Dolphin (SS-169), marked "D1";
Porpoise (SS-172), marked "P1";
Pike (SS-173), marked "P2"; and
Tarpon (SS-175), marked "P4".
NH # 3038, courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
SS-172 96k Holland (AS-3) with seven submarines alongside, circa 1936-1939. These "boats" are, from left to right:
Nautilus (SS-168);
Narwhal (SS-167);
Shark (SS-174), marked "P3";
Dolphin (SS-169), marked "D1";
Porpoise (SS-172), marked "P1";
Pike (SS-173), marked "P2"; and
Tarpon (SS-175), marked "P4".
NH # 3039, courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
Fleet Maneuvers 17kCommemorative postal cover marking Fleet Maneuvers of the following subs off Midway, 5 April 1937:
Argonaut (SS-166), Nautilus (SS-168), Dolphin (SS-169), Porpoise (SS-172), Pike (SS-173), & Shark (SS-174).
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
SS-169 23k Commemorative postal cover and photo inset showing the Dolphin(SS-169) on 16 October 1937 before Dolphin departed San Diego for her new home port, Pearl Harbor, on 1 December 1937. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle. Text courtesy of DANFS.
SS 169 320k Tai Sing Loo trademark photo of a vessel entering Pearl Harbor passing a palm tree.
This photo might be on the occasion when Dolphin (SS-169) departed San Diego on 1 December 1937 for her new home port, Pearl Harbor, arriving a week later.
USN photo by Tai Sing Loo, courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
SS-169 25k Commemorative postal cover marking the Dolphin's (SS-169) deep dive, 28 November 1939. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle.
SS-171741kSUBMARINE D-1 with PAT O'BRIEN, GEORGE BRENT, WAYNE MORRIS stars the real life Dolphin (SS-169) on 11 January 1938.AP Wire photo courtesy of Ron Reeves.
SS 169 127k Dolphin (SS-169), at the Underwater Sound School, Hawaii, circa 1940. USN photo courtesy of Megan Edwards.
SS 169 222k A surfaced Dolphin (SS-169),circa 1940. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
SS 169 44k Dolphin (SS-169), in this undated photo, was an attempt to prune back submarine size. She would have had at least two sister ships but for the London Treaty of 1930, which cut size even further. Photo & partial text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
SS 169 228k In the late 1930's the Dolphin (SS-169) was painted overall gloss black. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
SS 169 247k Dark Dolphin (SS-169). USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Submarine Base,Pearl Harbor 144k Aerial view of the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, with part of the supply depot beyond and the fuel farm at right, looking north on 13 October 1941.
Note the fuel tank across the road from the submarine base, painted to resemble a building. The building beside the submarine ascent tower (in left center, shaped like an upside-down "U") housed the U.S. Fleet Headquarters at the time of the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941. Office of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the Fleet's Commander in Chief, was in the upper left corner of the building's top floor.
Wharton (AP-7) is in right foreground. Among the submarines at the base are Tuna (SS-203), Gudgeon (SS-211), Argonaut (SS-166), Narwhal (SS-167), Triton (SS-201) and Dolphin (SS-169). Holland (AS-3) and Niagara (PG-52) are alongside the wharf on the base's north side. In the distance (nearest group in upper left) are the battleship Nevada (BB-36), at far left, Castor (AKS-1) and the derelict old mine-layer Baltimore. Cruisers in top center are Minneapolis (CA-36), closest to camera, and Pensacola (CA-24), wearing a Measure 5 painted "bow wave".
Official USN photo # 80-G-451125, now in the collections of the National Archives.
SS 167 53k Oil/alkyd on canvas by the artist John Meeks entitled "Pearl".
Just a few minutes after America's unexpected and violent entry World War II, this painting depicts the scene at the submarine base with Dolphin (SS-169) (to the left) and Narwhal (SS-167) acquitting themselves to the best of their abilities, and honorably, during the first wave of the attack.
In the background, a pall of smoke rises from the disaster that has befallen "Battleship Row" and the Navy Yard, and Japanese "Kate" torpedo bombers race in from the south to add to the mayhem.
A lone "Kate", its torpedo already spent, circles - perhaps to take photographs. As it crosses astern of the moored submarines, their hastily prepared anti-aircraft fire scores a hit and it sustains fatal damage. Credit for the 'kill' is shared by Narwhal, Tautog (SS-199) and a destroyer (- although in detailed battle reports, the skipper of Dolphin claims the victory...).
Photo & text courtesy of subart.net.
Pearl Harbor106Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii view looking northward, with the Navy Yard industrial area in the foreground and the Marine Barracks in the lower right, 28 July 1942. Ford Island is at left, with Oklahoma (BB-37) and Arizona (BB-39) under salvage nearby. San Diego (CL-53) is in the upper center.
West Virginia (BB-48) is in Drydock Number One, in the lower left, and California (BB-44) is alongside the wharf at the extreme right. Cruisers alongside the pier in right center are Northampton (CA-26) (left) and Pensacola (CA-24). Submarines alongside 1010 Dock, just beyond Drydock # 1, are Trout (SS-202), Pollack (SS-180), Dolphin (SS-169) and Cachalot (SS-170). Note camouflage on many of the Navy Yard's buildings.
Official USN photo # NH 84002, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of The Honorable James V. Forrestal.
SS 169 112k Dolphin (SS-169), shown about 1943, is little modified from her peacetime appearance. She was then being used to train submariners at Pearl Harbor. After an inspection revealed considerable corrosion in her tanks, she was sent back to New London for less demanding work.
Torpedoes were stowed, as shown, in the external tubes abaft the bridge fairwater. Designated torpedo capacity was initially 18; in 1933, the General Board ordered that 3 more torpedoes be stowed externally, as shown, in a space originally planned for boat stowage.
Note the separate generator engine in the compartment forward of the engine room.
Photo & text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
SS-169 18k Commemorative postal cover marking the Dolphin's (SS-169) 40th anniversary, June 1970. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle.

View the Dolphin (SS-169)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ
USS Dolphin, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack
PigBoats.COM TM, A Historic Look at Submarines.

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