The Early Years - The West Coast
Mare Island / San Francisco
|Once the Navy finally commited to adding submarines to it's fleet - the decision to deploy them on the west coast - as well as the east coast -- came very quickly. Mare Island was chosen for many reasons: San Francisco's "central" location on the western coast; The existance of a large, well equipped and manned Naval Shipyard; San Francisco's large protected bay for trials (much as the Long Island Sound on the East Coast); and the fact that most considered submarines as a strictly defensive weapon- deploying them to protect San Franciso - it's bay, port, and sea lanes seemed the best use of the new boats. |
California's climate was also a factor in the overall decission - as the East Coast - particularly in the region around the Long Island Sound -- can have some particularly harsh winters which could interfere with many operations - such as testing and training. The early boats were far from being truly "sea worthy" and rough seas could endanger them - so any adverse weather forecast would see the boats tied to the pier for the duration.
It didn't take long, however - for the boats to be found on voyages up and down the coast - putting into Los Angeles and San Diego.
|Having already learned about the need for a tender - one was assigned from the start - the USS Fortune - a screw steamer of moderate size - was quite powerful for the time - and had been outfitted as a sea-going tug - often deployed in her early days performing various towing tasks for the Navy. She was a natural, then for tending the subs - as they often needed a tow.|
|Believed to be USS PIKE (A5) at Mare Island (date unknown)|
|As noted - Mare Island was already a major Naval Shipyard when the submarines first arrived - so they were just another :"tenant" command. While Mare Island was a great facility - it's primary mission was building and repairing - not supplying support services as a home port - so the tenders were very important in seeing to it that the submarines received all the attention they needed. Even so - Mare Island remained an important "site" for the submarine fleet for a long time. Mare Island has it's own seperate page in addition to the information here.|
In this picture of a boat operating off of Mare Island in 1905 - one can't help but notice the masted man o'wars at the pier - and while a stark contrast of old and new navy - there were times when the old venerable sailors (ships and crew) were called on to tend the "new fangled" boats.
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The East Coast
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Philippines and Asiatic Station
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