From specifications to scrap: the comprehensive story of H-Class Submarine’s general characteristics and boats

Six of the 11 submarines that were successfully delivered to Imperial Russia in 1915 were delayed because of the Russian Revolution. H-4 through H-9, which the United States acquired in 1918 and used until 1933, made a substantial historical contribution to the naval domain.

The U.S. Navy operated the H-class submarines, which were once known as the Holland 602 type. During construction in November 1911, the first three submarines of this class—originally designated Seawolf, Nautilus, and Garfish—were renamed as H-1, H-2, and H-3. These submarines, which were put into service between December 1913 and January 1914, were a major advancement in naval technology.

The Electric Boat Company received an order for 17 H-class submarines from the Imperial Russian Navy in 1915. These submarines were supposed to be built in Canada, close to Barnet, Vancouver, British Columbia, to calm worries about U.S. neutrality. Eleven American Holland-class submarines were delivered by the British Pacific Construction and Engineering Co.-owned shipyard with success. However, the uncertainty surrounding the 1917 Russian Revolution caused a delay in the shipment of the other six submarines. After being kept dismantled at their construction yard, these six submarines were subsequently acquired by the US Navy on May 20, 1918.

These six submarines numbered H-4 through H-9, were put together at Puget Sound Navy Yard at the end of 1918. Unfortunately, on March 12, 1920, H-1 got aground and was destroyed off the coast of Mexico. In late 1922, the eight surviving submarines were decommissioned and stored in the Reserve Fleet. All eight submarines were taken off the Navy List in 1930, and their time as part of the U.S. Navy came to an end when they were sold for scrap in 1931 and 1933.

General Characteristics:

The specifications and capabilities of the US H-class submarine served as a defining feature of this type of submarine. The submarine was 150 feet 4 inches (45.82 metres) long, 15 feet 10 inches (4.83 metres) wide, and had a draft of 12 feet 5 inches (3.78 metres). It was designed to carry 358 long tonnes (364 t) when it surfaced and 467 long tonnes (474 t) when it was submerged. The propulsion system consisted of two 60-cell batteries, two shafts, two NELSECO diesel engines, two Electro Dynamic electric motors, and 950 horsepower (710 kW) of diesel engines combined with 600 horsepower (450 kW) of electric motors.

The H-class submarine could cover 2,300 nautical miles (4,300 km) at 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) when surfaced and 100 nautical miles (190 km) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) when submerged. It operated at a speed of 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) when surfaced and 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph) when submerged. The sub was built to carry a complement of 25 officers and soldiers and reach a test depth of 200 feet (61 metres).

The H-class submarine was armed with four 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, which could each hold eight torpedoes. Due to these combined characteristics, the US H-class submarine was a very strong and useful ship when it was in service.


February 22, 1911, saw the commissioning of the H-1 class submarines, which were initially known as Seawolf. Beginning on May 6, 1913, and ending on December 1, 1913, H-1 (SS-28), the first ship in the class, was launched. Unfortunately, it was destroyed and came to an end on March 12, 1920.

The following H-1 class submarines, H-2 (SS-29) and H-3 (SS-30), with the original names Nautilus and Garfish, were laid down on March 23, 1911, and April 3, 1911, respectively. Launched on June 4, 1913, H-2 was put into service on December 1, 1913. On September 1, 1931, it was sold for scrap after being decommissioned on October 23, 1922. Launched on July 3, 1913, H-3 was put into service on January 16, 1914. It was decommissioned on October 23, 1922, and sold for scrap on September 14, 1931, much like H-2.

The H-1 class of submarines, which comprises the H-4 through H-9 models, was established in 1918. On October 9, 1918, H-4 (SS-147) was launched, and on October 24, 1918, it was put into service. On October 25, 1922, it was taken out of service, and on September 14, 1931, it was sold for scrap. Launched in 1918 and decommissioned on October 20, 1922, were H-5 (SS-148) and H-6 (SS-149). 

November 28, 1933, saw the exchange of H-5 and H-6 for scrap. After being launched in 1918, H-7 (SS-150) and H-8 (SS-151) were decommissioned on 23 October 1922 and 17 November 1922, respectively, and were both sold for scrap on November 28, 1933. The H-9 (SS-152) was launched on November 23, 1918, put into service on November 25, 1918, decommissioned on November 3, 1922, and sold for scrap on November 28, 1933.