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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

R-15 (SS-92)

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Sierra - Victor

R-1 Class Submarine: Laid down, 30 April 1917, at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.; Launched, 10 December 1917; Commissioned, USS R-15, 27 July 1918; Re-designated USS R-15 (SS-92), 17 July 1920; Decommissioned, 7 May 1931, at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA.; Recommissioned, 1 April 1941, at Sub Base New London, CT.; Decommissioned, 17 September 1945, at Key West FL.; Struck from the Naval Register, 11 October 1945; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping on 13 March 1946, to Macey O. Scott, Miami, FL.
Partial data submitted by Yves Hubert.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 569 t., Submerged: 680 t.; Length 186' 2" ; Beam 18'; Draft 14' 6"; Speed, Surfaced 13.5 kts, Submerged 10.5 kts; Depth Limit, 200'; Complement 2 Officers, 27 Enlisted; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes forward, 8 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel electric engines, New England Ship and Engine Co., diesel engines, 1200hp, Fuel Capacity, 18,880 gals., Electro Dynamic Co., electric motors, twin propellers.
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7.80k Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California.
Photographed during World War I, with four-piper destroyers under construction at the Risdon Iron Works in the lower right. Four submarines and one destroyer hull in dry-dock are at the piers in the center, along with some large merchant ships. Risdon, part of Union, is to the lower right of the ink line. 1-Cafeteria, 2-Store room, 3-Iron Foundry, 4-Brass Foundry, 5-Machine shop, 6-Pattern shop, 7-Erecting machine shop, 8-Administration building, 9-Power house, 10-office bldg., Govt. offices, 11-Blacksmith shop, 12-Bioler shop, 13-Joiner shop, 14-Joiner shop, Annex with oil storage tanks underneath, 15-Warehouse and office bldg., 16-Pipe and copper shop, 17-Steel storage, 18-Plate shop, 19-Gate house, 20-Building slips 4&5, 21-Building slips 1.2 & 3, 22-Wharf #2, 23-Wharf #3, 24-Floating dock, capacity 2000 tons, 25-Floating dock, capacity 6500 tons, 26-Wharf #4, 27-Wharf #5, S-Storage space 2--Risdon Plant shown south and east of red lines: 1-Copper storage, 2- Oil tank, 3-Office building, 4-Office building, 5-Yarrow boiler shop, 6-Warehouse, 7-Power house, 8-Blacksmith shop, 9-Storehouse, 10-Sheet metal shop, 11-Sheet metal shop, 12-Marine machine shop, 13-Wharves, 14-Wharves, 15-Wharves.
Appearing here in no order are vessels that were constructed but not necessarily here: 6 of 27 R-class submarines
first keel laid: R-16 (SS-93), 26 April 1917, last: R-19 (SS-96), 23 June 1917
first launch: R-15 (SS-92), 10 December 1917, last: R-19, 28 January 1918
R-15 (SS-92) ... R-20 (SS-97)
12 of 51 S-class submarines S-30 (SS-135) ... S-41 (SS-146)
26 of 111 Wickes-class destroyers for the United States Navy between 1917 and 1919
first keel laid: Ringold (DD-89), 20 October 1917, last: Stansbury (DD-180), 9 December 1918 first launch: McKee (DD-87), 23 March 1918, last: Stansbury, 16 May 1919, 8 are launched on 4 July 1918
McKee (DD-87) ... Gridley (DD-92), Schley (DD-103), ... Ludlow (DD-112), Burns (DD-171) & ... Stansbury (DD-180)
40 of 156 Clemson-class destroyers for the United States Navy between 1918 and 1921 Chauncey (DD-296) ... Melvin (DD-335)
Photo courtesy of
R-boats 1.79k Construction of Uncle Sam's latest type of Submarine Class R, 6 March 1918.
Six R boats under constructions at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.
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 three boats closest to the camera are numbered on their sterns 16, 17 & 18. The other three boats viewed bow on can't be identified.
National Archives Identifier: 55173460
Local Identifier: 111-SC-006278.
Photo courtesy of
R-15738kA collage of photos showing R-15 (SS-92) being launched at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. Lt'd, Union Plant, San Francisco on 10 December 1917.
The left insert is a picture of the ship's sponsor, Mrs. Thales S. Boyd.
The right insert shows the R-15 sliding down the building ways.
USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
SS 92-9787k Beaver (AS-5) at anchor off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, with six submarines alongside, circa late 1918.
R-17 (SS-94),
R-20 (SS-97),
R-15 (SS-92),
R-16 (SS-93),
R-18 (SS-95) &
R-19 (SS-96).
USNHC photograph # NH 56366.
R-20 731k R-20 (SS-97) and her sisters (R-15 (SS-92), R-16 (SS-93), R-17 (SS-94), R-18 (SS-95) & R-19 (SS-96)) are seen in Mare Island's dry dock #2 between 7 April and 10 June 1919. The barge is YR-2. The submarines were in overhaul at the yard from 31 March 1919 and 14 June 1919 prior to their transfer to Pearl Harbor. This information taken from the shipyard's journals. Photo from the files of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum via Darryl L. Baker.
R-15148kR-15 (SS-92) in dry dock at San Pedro after her return from the Canal Zone.Text courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
USN photo courtesy of
R-15183kThe crew of the R-15 (SS-92) air out on deck in a warm climate. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
R-boats 412k Subs R U.S.
From right to left:
R-16 (SS-93),
R-18 (SS-95),
R-19 (SS-96),
R-12 (SS-89),
R-13 (SS-90),
R-11 (SS-88),
R-17 (SS-94),
R-20 (SS-97),
R-14 (SS-91) &
R-15 (SS-92)
Photo courtesy of David Wright.
938k Photo of a R-Class submarine leaving or returning to Mare Island at the coaling berths at the yard. I believes the photo dates between 31 March 1919 & 10 June 1919 and is one of the following subs: R-15 thru R-20 who were at the shipyard at the time along with Beaver (AS-5). The Evansville (ID 2996) is likely the outboard ship in the background. The other two are likely civilian ships delivering or picking up coal or stone.
Dave Johnston adds; "I can’t make out the boat’s name on the forward superstructure, but it appears to be a single digit. This is only a guess and it could be anything.
Interesting note: I can see a gun mount pedestal on the forward deck, but there doesn’t seem to be a gun installed. I have not seen this yet on an R-boat. At any rate, the deck around the gun mount has not been expanded yet, so this is probably a preliminary installation."
Text courtesy of Darryl Baker & Dave Johnston.
Photo from the files of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum via Darryl L. Baker.
R-20 516k Union Iron Works R Class Boats - deck gun images in Pearl Harbor. This photo shows major work to add sponsons and deck for larger gun decks; left to right R-19 (SS-96), R-18 (SS-95), R-15 (SS-92), R-17 (SS-94) & R-20 (SS-97).
This photo from left to right shows R-18, R-15, R-17 & R-20 from a different angle than first photo (not in focus). The dark area in the middle of the gun deck is either the disappeared 3’/23 gun or base for the 3”/50.?
Note: Monterey (M-6) is in the background, left of the large crane. She was station ship at Pearl Harbor from 12/19/1917 to 8/27/1921.
Photos from the files of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum via Darryl L. Baker.
R-12, 13 & 15 76k Tied up along the dock from right to left:
R-12 (SS-89),
R-15 (SS-92) and
R-13 (SS-90), probably in Pearl Harbor, circa 1920's.
USN photo # 19-N-10261, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
R-12, 13, 15 & 9 40k Tied up along the dock from right to left:
R-12 (SS-89),
R-15 (SS-92),
R-13 (SS-90),
with R-9 (SS-86) and an unidentified R-boat, probably in Pearl Harbor, circa mid 1920's.
USN photo # 19-N-10257, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
R-boats 117k Circa early 1920's at Pearl Harbor. What looks to be the R-15 (SS-92) on the left, R-12 (SS-89) in the middle and R-19 (SS-96). The mast of what might be the former cruiser Chicago, now a barracks ship under the classification IX-5, lies to the right of the R-19.USN photo courtesy of
R-boats 1.53k R-boats at Pearl Harbor, circa early 1920's.
From L-R: R-18 (SS-95),
R-16 (SS-93),
R-20 (SS-97),
R-17 (SS-94),
R-15 (SS-92),
R-19 (SS-96).
Photo courtesy of Ric Hednan.
Sub Base Pearl Harbor292kThe crews of Submarine Divisions 9 & 14 line the decks of their boats (20 in all) at the Submarine base at Pearl Harbor on 12 December 1930.
R-1 (SS-78),
R-2 (SS-79),
R-3 (SS-80),
R-4 (SS-81),
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-11 (SS-88),
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).
All the R-boats were to leave the base where they had been serving for upwards of 8 years and transfer to the East coast to be decommissioned over the next 3 years.
The only identifiable boat is the R-16.
USN photo by Tai Sing Loo, courtesy of E. Little.
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-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-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)
Navy Yard 91k These World War submarines, [R-boats] tied up in the Navy Yard in Philadelphia for a dozen years, are being reconditioned and some are already in active service again, it was announced 10 January 1941. This picture shows them as they appeared before the repair program began. Photo & text courtesy of A.P. Wire courtesy of
Bermuda 499k Submarines tied up at Base on Island, Bermuda. Base building in background, February 1942.
The boats in these photos are likely the following: R-1 (SS-78), R-5 (SS-82), R-6 (SS-83), R-7 (SS-84), and R-9 (SS-86), with an outside possibility of R-15 (SS-92). All of those were known to be operating out of Bermuda at the time of the photo. I can't get any closer than that.
Photo & text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired)
USN photo # 80-G-70634 & 70635, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Rusty Oldies294k1. R-15 (SS-92) is present.
2. S-14 (SS-119) is present.
3. There is a third Government design S-boat at the top of the photo, one that has a stern torpedo tube. The boat is riding a little high, and the tube can just be seen, right at the waterline.
4. The fleet boat is a EB design Mod 3 Gato.
Here is what can be reasonably inferred from the facts:
1. The photo was taken during WWII.
2. The photo was probably taken in New London. R-15 and S-14 operated exclusively in the Atlantic during the war, as did all of the Government design S-boats.
3. Assuming New London for a location, R-15 and S-14 were both there starting in April 1944.
4. Using April 1944 for a rough date, that narrows the choices of fleet boats considerably. It would have to be a late construction EB Gato. Only Cavalla (SS-244), Cobia (SS-245), and Croaker (SS-246), all built at the Victory Yard downstream would have been present in April 44. Croaker was actually the last Gato built by EB. All the other EB ways were already cranking out Balaos at this time. In fact, the first three EB Balaos had already been commissioned by this date.
5.S-48 (SS-159) was one of the eight Government design S-boats with a stern torpedo tube. Of the eight, only S-11 (SS-116) to 13 (SS-118), and S-48 were still in existence, the others had all been scrapped prior to the war. S-11, 12, and 13 operated exclusively in the Caribbean at this time.
So, to sum up: the photo was taken approximately April 1944 in New London, the fleet boat could be Cavalla, Cobia, or Croaker (and I would lean heavily to Croaker), and the S-boat at the top is probably S-48.
Photo i.d. courtesy of David Johnston, Ric Hedman, John Hummel & Robert Morgan.
Text courtesy of David Johnston
USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Pompano 401k This air view of Portsmouth Navy Yard taken just after the end of WW II shows the main shipbuilding shed which enabled construction to continue unimpeded by the Maine winters. The shed was widened to add two ways in 1941, and a fifth was squeezed in a year later. Drydocks No. 1 (left) & 2 (far right) contain six fleet submarines, while three R-boats are moored in the foreground.
The Pompano (SS-491) would have been under construction in the first ways on the left hand corner of the main shipbuilding shed.
Photo and partial text from The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy: A Design and Construction History, by John D. Alden.

View the R-15 (SS-92)
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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