America's late entry into World War 1 (1914-1918) meant that many indigenously-designed and developed war products failed to see much action during the years-long conflict. USS L-5 (SS-44) was an attack-minded submarine laid down by the Lake Torpedo Boat Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut on May 14th, 1914. However, the boat would not be launched until May 1st of 1916 and formal commissioning would elude the design until February 17th of 1918. America's entry came with the formal declaration of war against Germany on April 6th, 1917 and the war was over with the Armistice of November 1918. L-5's contribution to the war effort was as part of Submarine Division 6 operating near the Azores in November 1918.
L-5 was based on the preceding L-class of boats but, unlike those designed by Electric Boat, she was bred from a design offered by the Lake Torpedo Boat Company. The group encompassed L-5, L-6, L-7 and L-8 and differed in minor ways from their Electric Boat cousins. As completed, L-5 displaced 458 tons (short) when surfaced and 535 tons when submerged. Her length was 165 feet with a beam reaching 14.8 feet and a draught of 13.2 feet. Power was served through 2 x diesel engines for surface travel and 2 x electric motors for undersea travel. Speeds topped 14 knots surfaced and 10.5 knots submerged with ranges out to 3,300 nautical miles (when surfaced, though 150 nautical miles submerged). Operating depths were down to 200 feet. Her crew complement numbered 28 officers and submariners and her armament constituted 4 x 18" (457mm) torpedo tubes (bow-mounted, eight total torpedoes) and a 3" /23 caliber deck gun.
L-5's career in the ocean was a short one and she never fired a shot in anger. From the post-war period spanning 1919 to 1922 she was used to evaluate various torpedo designs and new sonar equipment along the American west coast. She was decommissioned at Hampton Roads, Virginia (arriving there by way of the Panama Canal) on December 5th, 1922, sold off in 1925 and ultimately scrapped.