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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

O-9 (SS-70)

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Golf - Bravo

O Class Submarine: Laid down, 15 February 1917, at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA.; Launched, 27 January 1918; Commissioned, USS O-9, 27 July 1918; Designated (SS-70), 17 July 1920; Reclassified a 2nd line submarine 25 July 1924 and to a 1st line submarine, 6 June 1928; Decommissioned, 25 June 1931, at Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet; Recommissioned, 14 April 1941, at Philadelphia; Sunk by mechanical failure, 20 June 1941, 15 miles off Portsmouth, NH, at latitude 42-59-48 N, longitude 70-20-27 W, with the loss of 34 officers and men; Struck from the Naval Register, 23 October 1941.
Partial data submitted by Yves Hubert.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 521 t., Submerged: 629 t.; Length 172' 4"; Beam 18' 0"; Draft 14' 5"; Speed, Surfaced 14 kts, Submerged 10.5 kts; Operational Depth Limit 200 ft; Complement 2 Officers 27 Enlisted; Armament, four 18", torpedo tubes, 8 torpedoes, one 3"/23 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel-electric, New England Ship and Engine Co, diesels, 880 hp, Fuel Capacity, 21,897 gal.; Electro Dynamic Co. electric motors, 740 hp, Battery Cells 120, single propeller.
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742k O-9 (SS-70) was sponsored by Mrs. Frederick C. Sherman (Fanny Jessop), wife of Lieutenant Commander F. C. Sherman, first commanding officer of the vessel.
From Right to left: Lt. Robert L Middleton, Fanny Sherman, Admiral Fred C Sherman, unknown wife of unknown officer, Actor Dana Andrews, Unknown officer. Taken at 20th Century Fox Studio during the filming of Wing and a Prayer, 1944.
Text from Ships of the United States Navy and Their Sponsors, pg. 159
Photo courtesy of
SS-64565kLaunching day for O-9 (SS-70) at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA., 27 January 1918.
Note the boat's mushroom anchor can be clearly seen retracted into the hull in a break in the bilge keel, behind the torpedo tube bow cap and directly under the bow planes. This is a feature not normally seen with the boat in the water. These boats all had a standard fluke-type anchor housed in the superstructure on the starboard bow and this anchor was the one normally used for mooring out. The mushroom anchor could be used for this purpose, but its primary use was to allow the boat to "hover" while submerged. The boat would come to a complete stop, drop the mushroom anchor and then adjust ballast to achieve a slight positive buoyancy, drawing the anchor chain tight. It would then adjust its depth by paying out or heaving in on the anchor chain. This could be a very useful tactic when sitting off an enemy's harbor waiting for ships to come out.
Text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston
National Archives Identifier: 45513785
Local Identifier: 165-WW-338B-046
Photo courtesy of
O-91.27k Just after launching, the O-9 (SS-70) finds her weight at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA., 27 January 1918. Note the ice floes in the Fore River.USN photo courtesy of
O-9145k O-9 (SS-70) alongside pier after launching at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA., 27 January 1918. USN photo courtesy of
O-boats 923k U.S. submarines at Bermuda. Just returned from war zone.
From left to right, 2 unidentified O-boats, O-3 (SS-64), O-5 (SS-66) & O-7 (SS-68).
On 2 November 1918 O-boats 1 / 10 (SS-62 / 71) departed Newport with a 20-sub contingent bound for European waters, however, the Armistice was signed before the ships reached the Azores, and they returned to the United States.
Text i.d. courtesy of DANFS.
Photo by James W. Anderson, courtesy of Kristina Magill via Gary Priolo.
O-boats 1.04k Late type American submarine, Bermuda. One of the unknown 10 O-boats 1 / 10 (SS-62 / 71) . Photo by James W. Anderson, courtesy of Kristina Magill via Gary Priolo.
O-boats 659k A steel sea monster, amphibious and formidable, is Uncle Sam's newest submarine just home from war duty. The great fin rudders stabilize the boat under water and assist in speedy submerging. They fold up snugly against the sides when the "sub" is under way. Several of these new O-boats are making their initial New York appearance in the Naval Review. Image provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from the New-York Tribune (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, 27 April 1919, Image 47, via
O-boats 85k Submarine Division 8,Commander Guy E. Davis commanding. Nine of the Division's ten O-boats at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts, 16 August 1921. Panoramic photograph by Crosby, "Naval Photographer", 11 Portland Street, Boston. Submarines in the front row are (from left to right): O-3 (SS-64), O-6 (SS-67), O-9 (SS-70) and O-1 (SS-62). Those in the second row are (from left to right): O-7 (SS-68), unidentified (either O-2 or O-8), O-5 (SS-66), O-10(SS-71) and O-4 (SS-65). Large four-stacked ship in the left center distance is the U.S. Army Transport Mount Vernon. USNHC photograph # NH 103193.
The Saxonia, now Savannah (AS-8), once considered the finest German passenger ship, is now a mother for United States submarines. Here she is off the coast at Provincetown, Mass., with some of her cubs.
Image and text provided by Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records; Phoenix, AZ.
Photo from the Bisbee Daily Review. (Bisbee, Ariz.) 1901-1971, 21 August 1921, SECOND SECTION, Image 9, via
Solo 387k US Submarine base at Coco Solo, Panama 1923.
The R-26 (SS-103) is in the background with the white tarp over her fore deck.
The Submarine Chaser in the background is SC 285.
The O-3 (SS-64) & O-7 (SS-68) are in front of the R-26. The O-9 (SS-70) is next closest to the camera. The two boats in the foreground are the O-5 (SS-66) and a mystery "O" boat.
The O-5 reported to Coco Solo in January of 1923 and she sank 18 October 1923 with the loss of 2 lives.
Text courtesy of Ric Hedman.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman.
Low 74k Admiral Francis Stuart Low was born in Albany, New York, on 15 August 1894, son of the late Commander William Franklin Low, USN, and Mrs. Anna (Stuart) Low. He attended High School in Newton, Massachusetts and US Naval Academy, graduating from the latter with the Class of 1915. In 1926 he completed the junior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. His first assignments after graduation were in the battleship Connecticut (BB-18) and cruiser Montana (ACR-13). In the early part of his illustrious career, he was designated a submariner, and commanded the submarines D-3 (SS-19), O-9 (SS-70), L-1 (SS-40), L-2 (SS-41), S-12 (SS-117), and served on the staffs of Commander Submarine Division FIVE and Commander Control Force during and subsequent to World War One. This continuous sea duty from 1915 to 1925 was briefly interrupted for a six months assignment with the Tactical Group Submarine Chasers, New London, Connecticut. Text & USN photo courtesy of Bill Gonyo.
O-9202kBroadside view of the O-9 (SS-70) next to a clump of palm trees, probably off Coco Solo, C.Z. in 1924, the boat was reclassified to a 2nd line sub during her year there. USN photo courtesy of CTM Russel Rau, former COB of SS-238 Wahoo, submitted by Bill Rau & Paul Crozier. Text courtesy of DANFS.
3.45k O-9 (SS-70) at Cristobal, Panama.Photo by Arthur North. From the collection of Mark Shepard.
O-2885k Jason (AC-12) at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, circa 1924. Several submarines are in the foreground, including (from left to right):
S-19 (SS-124);
O-9 (SS-70);
R-26 (SS-103) -- probably--; and
O-2 (SS-63).
USN photo NH 102780 courtesy
O-956kO-9 (SS-70) at dock in Panama, Coco Solo, C.Z. in 1924, the boat was reclassified to a 2nd line sub during her year there. Submitted by Larry Bohn, courtesy of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, home of the Cobia SS 245.
921k Six O-boats nested alongside a pier, in the Central American or Caribbean area, circa 1923-1924. O-7 (SS-68), O-6 (SS-67), and O-9 (SS-70) are the three outboard submarines. Quail (AM-15) is also alongside the pier, in the right background. USNHC photograph # NH 93672. Courtesy of the Estate of Virginia Cornwell, 1982.
484k3 O-boats bows: Broadside view of O-8 (SS-69) with two other unidentified O-boats moored to a buoy in Gatun Lake, Panama, approximately 1925. The famous Gatun Dam can be seen in the background, with the hydroelectric power station building on the right. The dam is the centerpiece of the canal, providing water for the 21 mile long lake as well as for the majority of the rest of the canal. It also provides power to operate the locks as well as for the needs of the surrounding population. Photo i.d. & text courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired)
USN photo thanks to Jim Kurrasch @ Battleship Iowa, Pacific Battleship Center.
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.
SS 71 491k O-10 (SS-71) outboard of O-9 (SS-70), May 1930. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert &
473kO-10 (SS-71) outboard of O-9 (SS-70), May 1930.Photo 08_06_006648 courtesy of via the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
631kNote the man in civillian dress (suit) descending the aft ladder of the O-9 (SS-70), May 1930.Photo 08_06_006646 courtesy of via the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
458kSubs O-9 (SS-70) and O-10 (SS-71) at dock. Crews listening to ball game, May 1930.Photo 08_06_006740 courtesy of via the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
638kStern view of the O-10 (SS-71) outboard & O-9 (SS-70) inboard, 1930.Photo 08_06_006637 courtesy of via the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
688kSubs O-9 (SS-70) and O-10 (SS-71) at dock, 1930.
Note the port bow plane opening of on O-9.
Photo 08_06_006618 courtesy of via the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
SS 71 957k O-10 (SS-71) outboard of O-9 (SS-70), May 1930. Photo 08_06_006694 courtesy of via the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
SS 70 774k Crew of O-9 (SS-70) listening to ballgame on Conning Tower, May 1930. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert &
Philadelphia Navy Yard 2.49k Philadelphia Navy Yard, 28 October 1940.
The photo presented panorama military shipyards in Philadelphia Navy Yard. Most of the ships are obsolete US destroyers, that were transfer to Great Britain under lend lease.
The submarines are on the left hand side of the photo, and they are: (in no particular order)
The O boats:O-1 (SS-62), O-2 (SS-63), O-3 (SS-64), O-6 (SS-67), O-7 (SS-68), O-8 (SS-69), O-9 (SS-70), O-10 (SS-71).
The R boats: R-1 (SS-78), R-2 (SS-79), R-3 (SS-80), R-5 (SS-82), R-6 (SS-83), R-7 (SS-84), R-8 (SS-85), R-9 (SS-86), R-10 (SS-87), R-12 (SS-89), R-13 (SS-90), R-14 (SS-91),R-15 (SS-92), R-16 (SS-93), R-17 (SS-94), R-18 (SS-95), R-19 (SS-96) & R-20 (SS-97).
The S boats: S-6 (SS-111), S-7 (SS-112), S-8 (SS-113), S-9 (SS-114) ,S-11 (SS-116), S-12 (SS-117), S-13 (SS-118), S-14 (SS-119), S-15 (SS-120), S-16 (SS-121), S-17 (SS-122) & S-48 (SS-159).
The Olympia (C-6) is shown at the right of the wharf on Broad Street.
The stadium in the upper left, was John F. Kennedy Stadium (formally Philadelphia Municipal Stadium)that stood from 1926 to 1992. It was erected for the 1926 Sesquicentennial.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Ron Reeves (of blessed memory)
Photo courtesy of
Lower resolution photo. (548k)

The submarine O-8 (SS-69) pictured above, accompanied the submarine O-9 (SS-70) on the trial run from which the latter was reported overdue today. The two submarines are of similar type. The O-8 is shown during a demonstration run near the submarine base at New London, Conn., with a radio announcer, George Hicks, in the conning tower. Lt. C. M. Momsen (left), inventor of the famed escape lung, and Lt. George C. Hern are on deck.
A. P. Wirephoto
Image provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from the Evening Star.[volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 20 June 1941, Image 1, via
NRDescent Deepest Ever Attempted In North Atlantic
Eight Hours Required For 5 Minutes' Work;
PORTSMOUTH, N. H George Crocker, 27-year-old Navy diver, on what Navy workers aboard the Falcon (ASR-2) called "the most dangerous dive" in submarine history, was hauled up on his first try to reach the sunken submarine O-9 (SS-70) late today because of trouble with his telephone line. He arranged to go down again, however.
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from the Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 21 June 1941, Image 1, via
—A United States Navy submarine (top) Triton (SS-201)(?), the rescue ship Falcon (ASR-2) (center) and the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane (WSC-141) (bottom) lie motionless at sea off Portsmouth today over the approximate spot where the Navy submarine O-9 (SS-70) went down with 33 aboard. The ships are waiting to begin salvage operations.
LOS ANGELES—These two little boys, Gilbert Varner (left), 5, and Bill, 7, in vain await word of the fate of their father, Earl F. Varner, chief machinist's mate, member of the crew of the missing submarine.
A. P. Wirephotos.
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from the Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 21 June 1941, Image 5, via
1.22kTwo articles from Vallejo-Times Herald, 21 June 1941.
Navy tug Chewink (ASR-3) with rescue bell on after deck on the scene of the O-9 (SS-70) disaster is seen above in a closeup view.
Article of US submarine sinkings from 21 June 1941 edition of the Vallejo-Times Herald, page 89.
Photos courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Secretary of the Navy Knox (near bow) threw a wreath over the side of Navy submarine Triton (SS-201) yesterday while a bugler blew "Taps" as funeral services were held at sea for 33 officers and men lost aboard the submarine O-9 (SS-70). Note the flag at half mast.
A. P. Wirephoto.
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 23 June 1941, Image 8, via
—Thomas W. Tillery, father of Thomas W Tillery, Jr., first-class machinist's mate on the lost submarine O-9, pictured with his wife and another son, James A. Tillery, 21. Mr. Tillery has appealed to President Roosevelt and to Senator Johnson of California to have the sub raised and a complete investigation of structural faults made.
Wide World Photo
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 28 June 1941, Image 3, via
O-9NRClassmate Of The Ill-Fated O-9 (SS-70)
The United States submarine O-7 (SS-68), classmate of the O-9 is shown at top, above, when it was in trouble, having run aground on a rock shoal off Virginia a few years ago. The O-9, one of the few World War type submersibles still used by the U. S. Navy, sank late last week in 440 feet of water off Portsmouth,Maine. Navy divers found the depth too great to attempt a rescue. Bits of debris washing to the surface indicated to rescue workers that the O-9 was crushed by the terrific pressure. Thirty-one men and two officers were aboard. The officers were, in lower photo, Lieut. Howard J. Abbott, left, of Osceola, La., Commander Mark P. Wangsness, center, second in command. Rear Admiral T. D. Wainwright, commandantof the Portsmouth navy yard, right, directed the futile rescue efforts. Funeral services for the victims were conducted yesterday afternoon with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox participating.
Image and text provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC.
Photo & text by The Wilmington Morning Star. (Wilmington, N.C.) 1909-1990, 23 June 1941, FINAL EDITION, Image 1, courtesy of
O-932kHoward Joseph Abbott, Lieutenant (Commanding Officer) of the O-9 (SS-70) at the time of her loss. USN photo courtesy of
O-951k Area map of the Isles of Shoals, where the O-9 (SS-70) lays buried in the depths at 420 feet. Photo courtesy of
O-978k The above 500 kHz image clearly shows the O-9 (SS-70). Bow is to the right, stern is to the left. It appears that the hull was crushed just behind the center conning tower. The dark contact to the left and behind the conning tower is a large fishing net that was snagged on the submarine. The line of depressions dropping off in front of the submarine were most likely formed by trawler doors skipping across the bottom. Text courtesy of Photo courtesy of
O-975kThe image of the O-9 (SS-70) below was inverted and slightly colored to enhance detail. Courtesy of
O-9101kMemorial plaque photo of the crew of the O-9 (SS-70).Courtesy of via Bill Gonyo.
O-932k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the O-9's (SS-70) crew.Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via
Memorial plaque91kMemorial plaque at Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia PA, July 2006 for the crews of United States submarines lost during peace time accidents:
F-1 (SS-20), F-4 (SS-23), G-2 (SS-27), H-1 (SS-28), O-5 (SS-66), O-9 (SS-70), S-4 (SS-109), S-51 (SS-162), Squalus (SS-192), Scorpion (SSN-589) & Thresher (SSN-593).
Photo courtesy of Wendell Royce McLaughlin Jr.
O-950k Below is a rendering of the O-9 (SS-70) to help interpret the above sonar images.

In Memorium:

In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 20th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. submariners who died defending their county:

"When the waves of death compassed me / the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; / the bonds of She'ol encircled me; / the snares of death took me by surprise; / in my distress I called upon the Lord, / and cried to my G-D: / and he heard my voice out of his temple, / and my cry entered into his ears. / Then the earth shook and trembled; /the foundations of heaven moved / and shook because of his anger /...the heavy mass of waters, and thick clouds of the skies /... And the channels of the sea appeared, / the foundations of the world were laid bare, / at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast at the breath of his nostrils. / He sent from above, he took me; / he drew me out of many waters; / he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. / They surprised me in the day of my calamity: / but the Lord was my stay / He brought me forth also into a large place: / he delivered me because he delighted in me./"
Courtesy of

View the O-9 (SS-70)
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
ComSubPac Report of loss of USS O-9 (SS 70) June 20, 1941 - 34 Men Lost
On Eternal Patrol
Submarine USS O-9 (SS-70)
PigBoats.COM TM, a Historic Look at Submarines

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