The evolution of underwater warfare : General characteristics and ships of the B-Class Submarines

Serving in the Philippines from 1912 to 1915 were the B-class submarines built by Fore River Shipbuilding for the U.S. Navy. At 82.5 feet in length, with a maximum speed of 9 knots, and two bow torpedo tubes, these submarines were efficient despite their small size. They were decommissioned between 1919 and 1922 and used as targets again.

The three B-class submarines were built by the Quincy, Massachusetts-based Fore River Shipbuilding Company and were contracted to the Electric Boat Company. These American-owned submarines were put into service by the U.S. Navy and were eventually stationed in the American-controlled Philippines from 1912 to 1915. They were transported by colliers, which are specialised ships that carry coal, to their stationed area. All three of the submarines served, however between 1919 and 1922, they were decommissioned and used as targets.

General Characteristics:

During its time, the U.S. B-class submarine was a unique undersea vehicle. Its small yet effective measurements were 82 feet and 6 inches (25.15 m) in length, 12 feet and 6 inches (3.81 m) in beam, and 10 feet and 6 inches (3.20 m) in draft. Its displacement was 145 long tonnes (147 t) when it surfaced and 173 long tonnes (176 t) when submerged.

The submarine’s maximum speed was 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) when submerged and 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) on the surface. It was propelled by a 250 bhp (190 kW) Craig Shipbuilding Co. gasoline engine and an Electro Dynamic electric motor (215 bhp; 110 kW). Additionally, a 60-cell battery that powered a single shaft was part of the propulsion system. In surface conditions, this arrangement allowed the submarine to travel 540 nautical miles (1,000 km; 620 km) and 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) underwater.

To enable it to function properly at different underwater levels, the submarine’s design included a practical test depth of 150 feet (46 metres). Ten officers and enlisted personnel were able to board the ship, demonstrating its small size but practical crew capacity. Outfitted with two 18-inch (450 mm) bow torpedo tubes that could fire up to four torpedoes each, the U.S. B-class submarine was prepared for combat. The B-class submarine was an asset that was both capable and flexible in its day because of this mix of attributes.



Launched as Viper on March 30, 1907, the submarine B-1 (SS-10) had its keel laid down on September 5, 1905. 18 October 1907 saw its commissioning, and on November 17, 1911, it was redesignated B-1. The submarine was put into target status on December 1, 1921, after it had been in service for a while.

Similarly, on August 30, 1905, B-2 (SS-11) had its keel laid down, and on September 1, 1906, it was launched as Cuttlefish. It was renamed B-2 on November 17, 1911, after it was put into service on October 18, 1907. After being decommissioned on December 12, 1919, B-2 was similarly converted to a target.

Regarding B-3 (SS-12), it was launched as Tarantula on March 30, 1907, after its keel was laid down on September 5, 1905. The submarine was put into service on December 3, 1907, and on November 17, 1911, it was given the new designation B-3. B-3 was used until July 25, 1921, when it was decommissioned and turned into a target once more.