USS L-4 (SS-43)

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USS L-4 underway off Berehaven, Ireland
L-4 underway off Berehaven, Ireland
United States
Name: USS L-4
Builder: Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 23 March 1914
Launched: 3 April 1915
Commissioned: 4 May 1916
Decommissioned: 14 April 1922
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 31 July 1922
General characteristics
Class and type: L-class submarine
  • 450 long tons (457 t) surfaced
  • 548 long tons (557 t) submerged
Length: 168 ft 6 in (51.36 m)
Beam: 17 ft 5 in (5.31 m)
Draft: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)
Installed power:
  • 900 bhp (670 kW) (diesel)
  • 340 hp (250 kW) (electric)
  • 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced
  • 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph) submerged
  • 3,300 nmi (6,100 km; 3,800 mi) at 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) on the surface
  • 150 nmi (280 km; 170 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth: 200 feet (61.0 m)
Complement: 28 officers and enlisted men

USS L-4 (SS-43) was an L-class submarine of the United States Navy.


The L-class boats designed by Electric Boat (L-1 to L-4 and L-9 to L-11) were built to slightly different specifications from the other L boats, which were designed by Lake Torpedo Boat, and are sometimes considered a separate class. The Electric Boat submarines had a length of 168 feet 6 inches (51.4 m) overall, a beam of 17 feet 5 inches (5.3 m) and a mean draft of 13 feet 7 inches (4.1 m). They displaced 450 long tons (460 t) on the surface and 548 long tons (557 t) submerged. The L-class submarines had a crew of 28 officers and enlisted men. They had a diving depth of 200 feet (61.0 m).[1]

For surface running, the Electric Boat submarines were powered by two 450-brake-horsepower (336 kW) diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 170-horsepower (127 kW) electric motor. They could reach 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) on the surface and 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph) underwater. On the surface, the boats had a range of 5,150 nautical miles (9,540 km; 5,930 mi) at 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)[1] and 150 nmi (280 km; 170 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged.[2]

The boats were armed with four 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes in the bow. They carried four reloads, for a total of eight torpedoes. The Electric Boat submarines were initially not fitted with a deck gun; a single 3"/50 caliber gun on a disappearing mount was added during the war.[2]

Construction and career[edit]

L-4's keel was laid down on 23 March 1914 by Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 3 April 1915 sponsored by Mrs. Stephen A. Gardner, and commissioned on 4 May 1916 with Lieutenant (junior grade) Lewis Hancock, Jr., in command.

Service history[edit]

Assigned to the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla, L-4 operated along the Atlantic coast, assisting in the development of new techniques in undersea warfare until April 1917.

Following the declaration of war on the Central Powers, the United States Navy dispatched submarines to European waters to protect the Allied shipping lanes. After a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, overhaul, L-4 departed Newport, Rhode Island, on 4 December and steamed for the Azores. She departed Ponta Delgada on 19 January 1918, arriving for patrol operations at Berehaven, Ireland, on 27 January. While on patrol during April, L-4 twice encountered enemy U-boats in British waters and chased them from the paths of friendly convoys.

Based at Berehaven for the rest of the war, U.S. submarines protected Allied shipping from U-boat attacks. Following the Armistice with Germany, L-4 departed the Isle of Portland, England, on 3 January 1919 for the United States, arriving Philadelphia on 1 February.

For the next two years, the submarine operated along the East Coast performing experiments developing the tactics of undersea warfare. L-4 decommissioned at Philadelphia on 14 April 1922 and was sold to Pottstown Steel Company in Douglassville, Pennsylvania, on 31 July 1922 for scrapping.


  1. ^ a b Friedman, p. 307
  2. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 129


  • 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. (1984). 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 entry can be found here.

External links[edit]