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USS C-5 (SS-16)
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.
Name: USS Snapper
Builder: Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts
Launched: 16 June 1908
Commissioned: 2 February 1910
Decommissioned: 23 December 1919
Renamed: C-5, 17 November 1911
Fate: Sold for scrap, 13 April 1920
General characteristics
Class & type: C class submarine
Displacement: 238 long tons (242 t) surfaced
275 long tons (279 t) submerged[1]
Length: 105 ft 4 in (32.11 m)
Beam: 13 ft 11 in (4.24 m)
Draft: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Propulsion: Craig gasoline engines
electric motors
2 × shafts
Speed: 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h) surfaced
9 kn (10 mph; 17 km/h) submerged[1]
Complement: 15 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 18 in (460 mm) bow torpedo tubes (4 torpedoes)[1]

USS C-5 (SS-16) was a C-class submarine of the United States Navy. Her keel was laid down by Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts,[citation needed] 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[1] Chester W. Nimitz in command. She was renamed C-5 on 17 November 1911 and given hull number "SS-16" in 1920.[1]

Service history

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 signaling 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 Guantanamo 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume 19, p.2037, "Octopus".

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