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USS C-5 underway in New York Harbor during a review in 1912.
USS C-5 underway in New York Harbor during a review in 1912.
United States
NameUSS Snapper
Laid down17 March 1908
Launched16 June 1908
Sponsored byMs. A. Nicoll
Commissioned2 February 1910
Decommissioned23 December 1919
RenamedC-5, 17 November 1911
FateSold for scrap, 13 April 1920
General characteristics
Class and typeC-class submarine
  • 238 long tons (242 t) surfaced
  • 275 long tons (279 t) submerged
Length105 ft 4 in (32.11 m)
Beam13 ft 11 in (4.24 m)
Draft10 ft 11 in (3.33 m)
Installed power
  • 480 bhp (360 kW) (gasoline)
  • 230 hp (170 kW) (electric)
  • 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) surfaced
  • 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) submerged
  • 776 nmi (1,437 km; 893 mi) at 8.13 knots (15.06 km/h; 9.36 mph) on the surface
  • 24 nmi (44 km; 28 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged
Test depth200 feet (61.0 m)
Complement15 officers and enlisted
Armament2 × 18 inch (450 mm) bow torpedo tubes (4 torpedoes)

USS C-5 (SS-16) was one of five C-class submarines built for the United States Navy in the first decade of the 20th century.


The C-class submarines were enlarged versions of the preceding B class, the first American submarines with two propeller shafts. They had a length of 105 feet 3 inches (32.1 m) overall, a beam of 13 feet 10 inches (4.2 m) and a mean draft of 10 feet 10 inches (3.3 m). They displaced 240 long tons (240 t) on the surface and 273 long tons (277 t) submerged. The C-class boats had a crew of 1 officer and 14 enlisted men. They had a diving depth of 200 feet (61.0 m).[1]

For surface running, they were powered by two 240-brake-horsepower (179 kW) Craig gasoline engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 115-horsepower (86 kW) electric motor. They could reach 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) on the surface and 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) underwater. On the surface, the boats had a range of 776 nautical miles (1,437 km; 893 mi) at 8.13 knots (15.06 km/h; 9.36 mph) and 24 nmi (44 km; 28 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged.[1]

The boats were armed with two 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes in the bow. They carried two reloads, for a total of four torpedoes.[2]

Construction and career[edit]

C-5 was laid down by Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts, under a subcontract from Electric Boat Company, as Snapper, making her the first ship of the United States Navy named for the snapper. Snapper was launched on 16 June 1908 sponsored by Ms. A. Nicoll, and commissioned on 2 February 1910 with Lieutenant Chester W. Nimitz in command. She was renamed C-5 on 17 November 1911 and given hull number "SS-16" in 1920.

Service history[edit]

Snapper fitted out at the Boston Navy Yard, then began three years of training and tests along the East Coast and in Chesapeake Bay. She ran experiments with radio, submarine signalling apparatus, different types of batteries, and other equipment, all of which has since become standard in submarines. She joined in Fleet maneuvers helping to develop submarine tactics in submerged attacks on combatant ships, and engaged in operations with airplanes in the infancy of naval aviation. Highlights of the period were the reviews of the Fleet by President of the United States William H. Taft and Secretary of the Navy George von L. Meyer in November 1911 and October 1912.

On 20 May 1913, C-5 and her sisters of the First Group, Submarine Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, commanded by Lieutenant (junior grade) R. S. Edwards in C-3, departed Norfolk, Virginia, in tow of submarine tender Castine and collier Mars, for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. From her arrival on 29 May, C-5 exercised in Cuban waters – principally conducting torpedo drills – until 7 December 1913. On that date, C-5 and her sisters of the redesignated First Division – escorted by four surface ships – sailed for Cristobal in the Panama Canal Zone. Five days later the ships completed the 700 mi (1,100 km) passage, at that time the longest cruise made by United States submarines under their own power.

C-5 operated in Panamanian waters, conducting exercises and harbor defense patrols as well as studying the suitability of various ports of Panama for submarine bases. C-5 was decommissioned at Coco Solo in the Panama Canal Zone on 23 December 1919, and sold on 13 April 1920.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz wrote of C-5:

Her Craig gasoline engines were built in Jersey City by James Craig, an extraordinarily wise and capable builder. Craig was a self-taught engineer who began as a draftsman in the Machinery Division of the New York Navy Yard and who started his "Machine and Engine Works" in Jersey City at a later date. C-5's engines were excellent as were also the Craig diesel engines he built for a subsequent submarine. These engines were designed and built by Craig and I have never forgotten his Foreword to the pamphlet of Operating Instructions which read briefly somewhat like this:
"No matter what the designer and the builder may have planned for these engines and no matter what the operator may try to do with them the Laws of Nature will prevail in the End."
How True !!


  1. ^ a b Friedman, p. 306
  2. ^ Gardiner & Gray, p. 127


  • Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.

External links[edit]