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USS Dolphin (SS-169)
USS Dolphin SS-169
USS Dolphin underway on the surface.
Career (U.S.)
Name: USS Dolphin
Namesake: Dolphin
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine[1]
Laid down: 14 June 1930[1]
Launched: 8 March 1932[1]
Commissioned: 1 June 1932[1]
Decommissioned: 2 October 1945[1]
Struck: 24 October 1945[1]
Fate: Sold for breaking up, 26 August 1946[1]
General characteristics
Type: V-7 (Dolphin)-class composite direct-drive diesel and diesel-electric submarine[2]
Displacement: Surfaced: 1,718 long tons (1,746 t)[3]
Submerged: 2,240 long tons (2,280 t)[3]
Length: 319 ft 3 in (97.31 m)[3]
Beam: 27 ft 11 in (8.51 m)[3]
Installed power: 3,500 hp (2,600 kW) (diesel engines, direct-drive)
900 hp (670 kW) (diesel engines, driving generators)
1,750 hp (1,300 kW) (electric motors)
Propulsion: •2 × BuEng direct-drive 6-cylinder 4-stroke diesel engines[3][4] driving electrical generators[3][4]
•2 × 120-cell batteries[3]
2 × E.D. electric motors[2][3]
2 × screws
Speed: 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h) surfaced,[3] 8 kn (9.2 mph; 15 km/h) submerged;[3] 8.7 kn (10.0 mph; 16.1 km/h) submerged, service, 1939[3]
Range: 4,900 nmi (5,600 mi; 9,100 km) at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h),[3] 18,780 nmi (21,610 mi; 34,780 km) at 10 kn with fuel in main ballast tanks[3]
Endurance: 10 hours at 5 kn (5.8 mph; 9.3 km/h)[3]
Test depth: 250 ft (76 m)[2]
Complement: 7 officers, 3 petty officers, 53 enlisted[3]
Armament: 6 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes (four forward, two aft), 18 Mark 14 torpedoes,[3] 1 × 4 in (100 mm)/50 cal deck gun[3]

USS Dolphin (SF-10/SSC-3/SS-169), a submarine and one of the "V-boats", was the sixth ship of the United States Navy to be named for that aquatic mammal. She also bore the name V-7 and the classifications SF-10 and SSC-3 prior to her commissioning. She was launched on 6 March 1932 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, sponsored by Mrs. E.D. Toland, and commissioned on 1 June 1932 with Lieutenant John B. Griggs, Jr.[5] in command.

Service history

Inter-war period

Dolphin steamed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 24 October 1932 for San Diego, California, arriving on 3 December to report to Submarine Division 12 (SubDiv 12). She served on the West Coast, taking part in tactical exercises and test torpedo firings until 4 March 1933, when she got underway for the East Coast. She arrived at Portsmouth Navy Yard on 23 March for final trials and acceptance, remaining there until 1 August. Dolphin returned to San Diego on 25 August 1933 to rejoin SubDiv 12.

In 1933, Dolphin tested a unique feature to submarines of having a motor boat stored in a waterproof unit which could be brought out when needed. At that time, most navies thought that in wartime submarines would cruise and have to board and inspect merchant vessels before they could sink them.[6]

She cruised on the west coast with occasional voyages to Pearl Harbor, Alaska, and the Panama Canal Zone for exercises and fleet problems. On 1 December 1937, Dolphin departed San Diego for her new homeport, Pearl Harbor, arriving one week later. She continued to operate in fleet problems and training exercises, visiting the West Coast on a cruise from 29 September to 25 October 1940. Located at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Dolphin took the attacking enemy planes under fire, and then left for a patrol in search of Japanese submarines in the Hawaiian Islands.

World War II

Dolphin departed from Pearl Harbor on 24 December 1941 on her first war patrol, during which she reconnoitered in the Marshall Islands in preparation for later air strikes. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 February 1942 to refit and resupply, and then got underway once more on 14 May. Searching a wide area west of Midway Island, she patrolled off the island itself during the pivotal Battle of Midway from 3 to 6 June. She took harbor at the atoll for repairs from 8 to 11 June, and then she returned to her patrol, attacking a destroyer and a tanker with undetermined results before returning to Pearl Harbor on 24 July. Her third war patrol, from 12 October to 5 December, was in the storm-tossed waters of the Kurile Islands, where she performed reconnaissance essential to the operations that were to keep Japanese bases there largely ineffective throughout the war. With newer submarines now available for offensive war patrols, Dolphin was assigned less dramatic but still vital service on training duty at Pearl Harbor until 29 January 1944, when she sailed for exercises in the Canal Zone, and duty as a school boat at New London, Connecticut, where she arrived on 6 March. She served in this essential task until the end of the war, then was decommissioned on 12 October 1945 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Dolphin was sold for scrap on 26 August 1946.


Dolphin received two battle stars for her World War II service.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  4. 4.0 4.1 U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 259
  5. Griggs would replace Gin Styer as chief of staff to ComSubPac Admiral Robert H. English. Blair, Clay, Jr. Silent Victory (New York: Bantam, 1976), pp.249 & 368.
  6. "Submarine Has Boat Island For Water Proof Craft", January 1933, Popular Mechanics

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