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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

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

S-38 (SS-143)

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Papa - Juliet

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Yangtze Service Medal - China Service Medal - American Defense Service Medal (with Sea Clasp)
Bottom Row - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (3) - World War II Victory Medal - Philippine Defense Medal

S-18 Class Submarine (Holland-type): Laid down, 15 January 1919, at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.; Launched, 17 June 1919; Commissioned, USS S-38 (SS-143), 11 May 1923; Decommissioned, 14 December 1944; Struck from the Naval Register, 20 January 1945; Final Disposition, sunk as a target, 20 February 1945, off San Diego, CA. S-38 was awarded three battle stars for her services in World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 854 t., Submerged: 1,062 t.; Length 219' 3" ; Beam 20' 8"; Draft 15' 11"(mean); Depth Limit 200'; Speed, Surfaced 14.5 kts, Submerged 11 kts; Complement, 4 Officers, 34 Enlisted; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes, one 4"/50 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel-electric, New London Ship & Engine diesel engines, HP 1200, Fuel Capacity, 41,192 gals.; General Electric Co., electric motors, Battery Cells, 120, 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
SS 143 160k A photo marking the launching of S-38 (SS-143) at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Ltd., Union Plant, Potrero Wks. on 17 June 1919. The ship's sponsor Mrs. Grace M. Collins is shown on the left. USN photo courtesy of
SS 143 103k S-38 (SS-143) fitting out at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard, San Francisco, California, 29 March 1923. Official USN photo # NH 97960, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
Canopus & Friends 85k Canopus (AS-9) in Apra Harbor, Guam, with Submarine Division 17 alongside, 29 October 1924. Submarine Division 17's members were:
S-36 (SS-141),
S-37 (SS-142);
S-39 (SS-144);
S-40 (SS-145) and
S-41 (SS-146).
USN photo # NH 55048, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
Canopus 76k Canopus (AS-9), in Apra Harbor, Guam, 29 October 1924, with all six members of Submarine Division 17 alongside.
The division consisted of:
S-36 (SS-141);
S-37 (SS-142),
S-38 (SS-143),
S-39 (SS-144),
S-40 (SS-145) and
S-41 (SS-146).
USNHC photograph # NH 104940.
606k Canopus (AS-9) at Naval Station Olongapo, Philippine Islands, circa 1926 with from outboard to inboard:
S-36 (SS-141)
S-38 (SS-143)
S-37 (SS-142)
S-41 (SS-146)
S-39 (SS-144) alongside.
From Hyman Fischer photo album via Sandie Larsen courtesy of Don Kehn, Jr. & Gary Priolo.
SS 143 105k
Jason (AV-2) in the Dewey Drydock, at Olongapo, Philippine Islands, on 9 March 1932. Canopus (AS-9) is in the upper right, with four submarines moored alongside. The outboard submarine is S-38 (SS-143).
Photograph # 80-CF-22672-1, from Department of the Navy collections in the U.S. National Archives.
SS 135 - 46 113k The S-boat was the culmination of E.B. single-hull design for the U.S. Navy. This is a typical unit of the S-30-41 (SS-135-46) group, as completed. Ballast trunks are indicated. Lines below the hull show the location of the fuel tanks forward & aft (the foremost two tanks of the after group are the lubricating oil tank & sump tank). Arrows indicate the two Fessenden oscillators under the boat's keel, fore & aft. Arrows in the bridge structure indicate the three periscopes (one in the conning tower, soon removed) the telescoping radio mast & the radio tube leading down into the radio room.
In the control room the wheels controlling the planes were on the port side: the three levers for the Kingston valves were on the opposite side, abaft the chart table. The radio room, (below the radio tube, into which the antenna leads ran) was set into the after port side of the control room.
Abaft the main motors were auxiliaries: the low pressure main ballast pump on the centerline, the high pressure main ballast pump on the starboard shaft, the motor for the Fessenden oscillator on the port shaft.
Drawing & Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
Canopus 64k Canopus (AS-9), with the Asiatic Fleet's Submarine Squadron Five alongside, during the 1930s. The submarines present include (from left to right): S-37 (SS-142); S-40 (SS-145); S-36 (SS-141);S-38 (SS-143); S-41 (SS-146); S-39 (SS-144). US National Archives photo # 80-G-1014615, a USN photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
S-40 92k The boats of SubDiv 17, Asiatic Fleet, moored alongside Canopus (AS-9) at Tsingtao, China, in 1930. Submarines in the foreground include (from left to right):
S-40 (SS-145);
S-38 (SS-143); and
S-41 (SS-146).
Another submarine is approaching, in the center distance.
USN photo # NH 59969, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
SS 143 106k S-38 (SS-143), nested between sister submarines S-40 (SS-145), at left, and S-41 (SS-146), at right, alongside Canopus (AS-9) off Tsingtao, China, in 1930. Note the submarines' 4"/50 deck guns.
USN photo # NH 51833, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
SS 143 123k S-38 (SS-143), nested between sister submarines S-41 (SS-146), at left, and S-40 (SS-145), at right, alongside Canopus (AS-9) at Tsingtao, China, in 1930. Note awnings spread aft on these submarines.
USN photo # NH 51831, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
SS 141 196k S-36 (SS-141) at anchor, moored alongside Canopus (AS-9), probably at Tsingtao, China, circa 1930 with the rest of the boats of Submarine Division Seventeen (SubDiv 17). The other S-boats are probably S-37 (SS-142), S-38 (SS-143), S-39 (SS-144). Note all the washing hung out to dry on the signal lines. Courtesy of
SS 143 130k Starboard side view of the S-38 (SS-143), coming alongside vessel, probably circa 1930's. USN photo courtesy of
S-37 68k Boats of SubRon 5 at Olongapo, Philippine Islands, circa 1933-1934. Submarines present are S-37 (SS-142), S-38 (SS-143), S-39 (SS-144) and S-40 (SS-145). USN photo # NH 80142, courtesy G.K. Bishop, USAR, 1974. US Naval Historical Center
SS 143 106k S-38 (SS-143), underway, circa the later 1930s. USN photo # NH 78922, courtesy, Submarine Force Library and Museum, Groton, CT., 1972.US Naval Historical Center.
SS 143 46k S-38 (SS-143), possibly October - November 1942 off Pearl Harbor. USN photo now in the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
SS 143 49k S-38 (SS-143), possibly November 1942 - April 1943 off San Diego. USN photo courtesy of USNI.
SS 143 62k S-38 (SS-143) following overhaul at San Diego, April 1943. Harris (APA-2) is behind her.
USN photo # 1198-43, courtesy of Tracy White. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard photo now held at Seattle NARA.
SS 143 105k S-38 (SS-143) dockside in San Diego following overhaul, April 1943.
The tug boat forward is YMT-3.
USN photo # 1198-43, courtesy of Tracy White. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard photo now held at Seattle NARA. Photo i.d. courtesy of Gary Priolo.
Fremantle 365k This plaque was unveiled 20 March 1995 by His Excellency Major General P.M. Jeffery OA MC, Governor of Western Australia to commemorate the sacrifices made by Allied submarines that operated out of Fremantle, Western Australia during WW II. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves (of blessed memory).

View the S-38 (SS-143)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
PigBoats.COM TM A Historic Look at Submarines

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