Cachalot Class, U.S. Submarines

Photograph of USS Cachalot

U.S. Navy


Tonnage 1110 tons standard displacement
1650 tons submerged
Dimensions 271'1" by 24'9" by 12'6"
82.9m by 7.54m by 3.81m
Maximum speed      17 knots surfaced
8 knots submerged
to 250 feet (76 meters)
Complement 52
Armament 4 21" bow/2 21" stern torpedo tubes (16 torpedoes)
1 3"/23 antiaircraft gun
2-shaft MAN diesel (3070 hp) or electric (1600 hp)
Bunkerage 260 tons diesel oil
Range 13,000 nautical miles (24,000 km) at 10 knots surfaced
50 nautical miles (90 km) at 5 knots submerged

The Cachalots were completed in 1933-1934 as the last two boats of the V program and were the first U.S. submarines to include a torpedo data computer and air conditioning. They were a compromise between the desire of the submarine force for a large boat capable of keeping up with the fleet and the recommendation of the Navy War College for smaller boats that could be built in greater numbers. Their double hulls were patterned after the German U-135 class of the First World War.

The Navy-built M.A.N. engines proved oversized, underpowered, and unreliable, to the extent that the two boats of the class were informally referred to as "Breakdown Division One." They were also generally regarded as having taken size reduction too far.

Though they were clearly obsolete in 1941, the Cachalots were pressed into service in the Aleutians in the early days of the war, making three war patrols each. They weretaken out of combat duty in late 1942 to serve as school boats.

Units in the Pacific:

Cachalot Pearl Harbor       Withdrawn in August 1942
Cuttlefish       Mare Island Withdrawn in August 1942


Alden (1979)

Blair (1975)

Friedman (1995)

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