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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Tarantula / B-3 (SS-12)

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

Radio Call Sign: November - Uniform - Delta

B Class Submarine: Laid down, 5 September 1905, at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA.; Launched, 30 March 1907; Commissioned USS Tarantula, 3 December 1907; Decommissioned, 6 November 1909, at Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, SC; Recommissioned, 15 April 1910; Renamed USS B-3, 17 November 1911; Decommissioned, 4 December 1912, at Charleston Navy Yard; Recommissioned, 2 September 1913, at Cavite Navy Yard, PI; Decommissioned and struck from the Naval Register, 25 July 1921; Final Disposition, sunk as a target, hulk sunk in Manila Bay near Corregidor.

Specifications: Displacement, surfaced 145 t., submerged 173 t.; Length 82' 5"; Beam 12' 6"; Draft 10' 7"; Speed, surfaced 9 kts, submerged 8 kts; Complement, 1 Officer 9 Enlisted; Armament, two 18" torpedo tubes, four torpedoes; Propulsion, gasoline-electric, Craig Shipbuilding Co. gasoline engines, 250 hp, Fuel Capacity, 1,880 gals, Electro Dynamic Co., electric motors, Battery Cells 60, single propeller.
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SS-1262k Tarantula (SS-12) being launched at the Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Yard at Quincy, MA., on 30 March 1907.Picture and info from "The Romance of A Submarine" by G Gibbard Jackson & submitted by Robert Hurst.
SS-1267k Tarantula (SS-12) running preliminary acceptance trials off Newport, Rhode Island, August 1907. USNHC photograph # NH 41915.
B Class221kThe B-boats (SS-10/12): Viper (SS-10), Cuttlefish (SS-11),& Tarantula (SS-12), the ultimate development of the single screw Holland design, introduced a much more extensive superstructure for sea keeping. As designed, Viper had only the single periscope shown, as in Plunger, it was let into the conning tower. A second (hull) periscope was later added. Engine gearing had been abandoned, the propeller shaft no longer coincided precisely with the axis of the hull. Air compressors and main bilge pumps were driven from the main shaft via clutches and gears; they could be operated by either the motor or the engine. Note that, in a boat this small, a reload torpedo occupied much of the hull. Collection of Rear. Admiral Henry Williams. USNHC photograph Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
B Class103kThe three B-boats (SS-10/12) (Inboard) Cuttlefish (SS-11), Tarantula (SS-12), and Viper (SS-10) share a snowy dry dock at the New York Navy Yard, 25 January 1908. Note that each one still has a single fixed periscope, with a flagstaff above it. Boats running submerged flew flags on these staffs to warn surface ships against running them down. Note, too, the running lights affixed to boards on the foremasts. Collection of Rear. Admiral Henry Williams. USNHC photograph Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
B-3470kViper (SS-10), Cuttlefish (SS-11) and Tarantula (SS-12) lie together in dry dock at the New York Navy Yard, 25 January 1908.NARA (National Archives and Record Administration) photo # 19-N-15-28-6, courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
An adventure watched with interest by the navy officials and by thousands throughout the country is the cruise of four submarines from Philadelphia to Charleston, S. C. The boats are the Tarantula, Viper, Cuttlefish (SS-11) and Octopus (SS-9).
Image and text provided by Washington State Library; Olympia, WA.
Photo from The Spokane Press. (Spokane, Wash.) 1902-1939, 12 November 1908, Image 7, via
721kCuttlefish (SS-11), Tarantula (SS-12), and Viper (SS-10) in port, circa 1909. Photo courtesy of
B-31.28k Tarantula, underway near the New York Navy Yard, 1909. Photographed by Enrique Muller.
US Navy Bureau of Ships photo # 19-N-15-26-14, now in the collections of N.A.R.A. (National Archives and Record Administration) via Scott Koen &
SS-10102k Viper (SS-10) in port, with members of her crew on deck, circa 1907-1911. Tarantula (SS-12) is behind her. USNHC photograph # NH 38.
SS-10117kAll three B-class submarines at Annapolis, MD, 1910. From left to right: Cuttlefish (SS-11), Viper (SS-10), & Tarantula (SS-12). In the background on the left is the cruiser Olympia (C-6) and in the center is an unidentified C or D class submarine.Text courtesy of David Johnston
Digital ID # 19799, LC-F81-2433. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, National Photo Company Collection.
Image and text provided by The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation.
Photo from The Sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1833-1916, 10 July 1910, Third Section, Image 29, via
SS-12 248k Tarantula's (SS-12) crew. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
SS-12 395k Tarantula's (SS-12) crew. USN photo courtesy of David Wright.
SS-12 683k Tarantula served with the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet until assigned to the Reserve Torpedo Group, Charleston Navy Yard 9 May 1911 and placed out of commission 4 December 1912. Text courtesy of DANFS.
Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert &
SS-1182k Ajax (AC-14) in Manila Bay, Philippine Islands, preparing to launch B-2 (SS-11) from her deck, circa 12 May 1913. Ajax had transported B-2 and B-3 (SS-12) to Manila from Norfolk, Virginia. USNHC photograph # NH 98923.
Ajax97kB-3 (SS-12) lies in Manila Bay after her voyage from Norfolk with B-2 (SS-11) as deck cargo, forward, in late April or May 1913, before they were launched from her deck.USNHC photo # NH 90172, from the Philip H. Wilson Collection, submitted by Joseph M. Radigan (of blessed memory)
SS-12110kB-3 (SS-12) at the Cavite Navy Yard, Philippine Islands, with other submarines, circa 1913-1917. USNHC photograph # NH 98926.Collection of Phillip H. Wilson. Donated by Mrs. Pauline M. Wilson, 1979.
Philippines 514k Submarine base at Cavite. Manila, Philippine Islands.
31 appears on the conning tower of the pierside sub as crewmen move a torpedo alongside. Note: The above photo has a vertical # 11 on her shears, so that leads me to believe that the boat in this photo is either B-1 or B-3. But keep in mind that those squadron identifiers sometimes changed, so you can not rely on them to positively ID the boat, only as an indicator. I have also seen a pic of a C-class boat with a vertical # 11, making the use of those squadron identifiers as an ID method a bit problematic.
Notice the 18 inch Whitehead Mk 3 torpedo on the pier next to the boat and its relatively small size compared to the WWII 21 inch Mk 14.
Text courtesy of David Johnston
Photographer: Committee on Public Information
National Archives Identifier: 45511421
Local Identifier: 165-WW-328E-4
Photo courtesy of
Philippines 447k B-3 (SS-12) with the 31 on her hull and an officer in dress whites looking at her sisters as they sail in the Philippine Islands. National Archives Identifier: 45513801
Local Identifier: 165-WW-338B-54
Photo courtesy of
Philippines 392k B-3 (SS-12) in Manila Bay with a collier, possibly the Proteus (AC-9) in the near distance. National Archives Identifier: 45513791
Local Identifier: 165-WW-338B-049
Photo courtesy of
SS-12295kB-3 (SS-12) with her crew on deck, at the Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines, 1919. USNHC photograph # NH 67654. Courtesy of Rear Admiral R.D. Workman, USN (ChC), Retired, 1969 via Scott Koen &
SS-12102k B-3 (SS-12) with her crew on deck, date and location unknown. USN photo courtesy of

View the Tarantula / B-3 (SS-12)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
Not Applicable to this Vessel
Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
PigBoats.COM TM, a Historic Look at Submarines

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