USS R-12 (SS-89)

USS R-12 (SS-89) was an R-class coastal and harbor defense submarine of the United States Navy.

USS R-12 (SS-89)
United States
Name: USS R-12 (SS-89)
Ordered: 29 August 1916
Builder: Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 28 March 1918
Launched: 15 August 1919
Commissioned: 23 September 1919
Decommissioned: 7 December 1932
Recommissioned: 16 October 1940
Decommissioned: 12 June 1943
Struck: 6 July 1943
Fate: Foundered 12 June 1943.
General characteristics
Class and type: R-class submarine
  • 569 long tons (578 t) surfaced
  • 680 long tons (690 t) submerged
Length: 186 ft 2 in (56.74 m)
Beam: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Draft: 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric
  • 13.5 kn (15.5 mph; 25.0 km/h) surfaced
  • 10.5 kn (12.1 mph; 19.4 km/h) submerged
Complement: 33 officers and men


Her keel was laid down by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts on 28 March 1918. She was launched on 15 August 1919 sponsored by Miss Helen Mack, and commissioned at Boston, Massachusetts on 23 September 1919 with Lieutenant F. J. Cunneen in command.


R-12 remained at Boston, Massachusetts until she headed down the coast on 11 March to New London, Connecticut, whence she operated until the end of May. She then continued south to Panama; transited the Panama Canal at the end of June; arrived at San Pedro, California, in July; and with the hull classification symbol "SS-89", departed the California coast for Pearl Harbor at the end of August. Arriving on 6 September 1920, she remained in Hawaiian waters, with occasional exercises on the West Coast and off Johnston Island until 12 December 1930. On that date, R-12 got underway for the East Coast and returned to New London, Connecticut on 9 February 1931. She conducted exercises with Destroyer Squadrons of the Scouting Force into the spring, then following overhaul trained personnel assigned to the Submarine School. On 27 September 1932, she departed New London for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where, after decommissioning on 7 December, she joined other R-boats berthed there in the Reserve Fleet.

Some seven and a half years later, on 1 July 1940, R-12 recommissioned in ordinary and shifted to New London to complete activation. Recommissioned in full on 16 October, she sailed for Panama on 10 December, arrived on 23 December, and into October 1941, patrolled the approaches to the Panama Canal. On 31 October, she returned to New London and for the next three months operated off the New England coast. In February 1942, she commenced patrols to the south and for the next year operated primarily from Guantanamo Bay and Key West, Florida. In March and April 1943, she was back at New London, then in May she returned to Key West, Florida, where she trained submariners for the remainder of her career.[1]

Accident and loss

Shortly after noon on 12 June 1943, R-12, while underway to conduct a torpedo practice approach, sounded her last diving alarm. As she completed preparations to dive, the forward battery compartment began to flood.[2] The collision alarm was sounded and a report was made that the forward battery compartment was flooding. Orders were given to blow main ballast, but the sea was faster. In about 15 seconds, R-12 was lost. The commanding officer, one other officer, and three enlisted men were swept from the bridge as the boat sank and were rescued. Forty-two lives were lost.[1] R-12 was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 July.


Sometime before 25 May 2011, an exploration team led by Tim Taylor aboard the expedition vessel "RV Tiburon" located and documented the wreck of R-12. The reason for her loss remains unknown. In making the discovery, the team deployed a state-of-the-art autonomous underwater robot which collected first ever imagery of the remains of R-12. They are collaborating and sharing their findings with the US Navy. RV Tiburon intends to launch a future expedition to further investigate the possible causes of the sinking, and collect detailed archeological baseline data.


  • There is a granite marker in honor of R-12 at the National Submarine Memorial in Groton, Connecticut.
  • There is a small monument in honor of R-12 and her crew at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island.



This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

  1. Barnette, Michael C. (2008). Florida's Shipwrecks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5413-6.
  2. "Submarine Casualties Booklet". U.S. Naval Submarine School. 1966. Retrieved 8 September 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Loss of R-12, CDR John Alden USN Ret., The Submarine Review, July 2008, Pages 107-119.

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