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USS Bass (SS-164) / (V-2 (SF-5)

Diesel-Electric Ocean-Going Attack Submarine

Naval Warfare / Ships

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Image from the United States Navy.

USS Bass emerged during the Interwar years and saw service into World War 2 across several roles.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 3/23/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
USS Bass was one of three "V-boat" submarines (the Barracuda-class) authorized by the United States government in 1916 and funded in 1919. They missed out on combat in World War 1 (1914-1918) altogether and marked the first boats to be built in the post-war period. USS Bass was the second of the group and saw her keel laid down on October 20th, 1921 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was launched on December 27th, 1924 and officially commissioned as "V-2 (SF-5)" on September 26th, 1925 to begin a career that would span into World War 2 (1939-1945).

As built, she displaced 2,155 tons when surfaced and 2,545 tons when submerged. She showcased a length of 326 feet, a beam of 27.5 feet and a draught of 15 feet. This made them considerably larger than the previous S-class boats. Installed power a composite direct-drive diesel and diesel-electric arrangement. Maximum speed in ideal conditions could reach 21 knots (surfaced) and range was out to 6,000 nautical miles (surfaced). The boat was categorized as a "fast fleet boat".

Internally there were 88 personnel and armament was 6 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes (four facing the bow, two facing the stern) with 12 torpedo reloads carried. 1 x 5" (127mm) deck gun was carried for surface work. In 1928, the gun was replaced with 1 x 3" (76mm) /50 caliber installation.

USS Bass conducted several cruising actions in the early-going. She was officially named USS Bass on March 9th, 1931 for, up to that point, she was merely recognized as SF-5. Her crew complement now included chief petty officers to go along with officers and enlisted personnel. On July 1st, 1931, her hull number was revised from SF-5 to "SS-164". Various cruises were then on her schedule until she was placed in reserve on June 9th, 1937.
With war exploding in Europe, USS Bass was brought back online on September 5th, 1940 and formed part of the Atlantic Fleet. She found herself in the Panama Canal Zone when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese Navy - the event thrusting the United States into formal war. From then on, USS Bass undertook four total war patrols. An August 17th, 1942 fire in her stern battery room led to the deaths of 26 of her crew. She was overhauled at the Philadelphia Navy Yard thereafter and it was during 1943 that her torpedo tubes and deck gun were removed in order to convert her to a cargo transport submarine. These changes effectively reduced her performance specs though the boat was never used in this role. Before the end of the year, USS Bass was part of several top secret experiments near Bock Island, New York and eventually lent her facilities to training personnel.

In Early 1944, she was back in Philadelphia waters to undergo repairs and operated, once more, as part of the Atlantic Fleet from then on. On March 3rd, 1945, she was officially decommissioned and used as a floating torpedo target on March 12th, 1945. She was scuttled on July 14th of that year.

The early V-boats were noted for their poor performance, never being able to make their listed maximum speed with their unreliable engine fits. They held heavy bows which gave them poor seakeeping qualities (which led to the 1928 removal of the heavier 5" deck gun) as well.


Ship Class [ Barracuda-class (V-1) ]
Ships-in-Class [ 3 ] Ship Names: V-1 (USS Barracuda), V-2 (USS Bass), V-3 (USS Bonita)
National flag of United States United States
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
- Hunter
- Direct-Attack
- Specialized / Utility
326 ft (99.36 m)
Width / Beam:
27.5 ft (8.38 m)
Height / Draught:
15.1 ft (4.60 m)
Displacement (Surface):
2,155 tons
Displacement (Submerged):
2,545 tons
Composite direct-drive diesel and diesel-electric arrangement; 2 x Busch-Sulzer direct-drive main diesel engines of 2,250 horsepower each; 2 x Busch-Sulzer auxiliary diesel engines of 1,000 horsepower each; 2 x 60-cell Exide batteries; 2 x Elliott electric motors of 1,200 horsepower; 2 x Shafts.
Speed (Surface):
21 kts (24 mph)
Speed (Submerged):
9 kts (10.36 miles)
5,996 nm (6,900 miles; 11,104 km)
As Built:
6 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes (four forward, two aft - 12 torpedo reloads).
1 x 5" (127mm) /51 caliber deck gun (later: 1 x 3" (76mm) /50 caliber deck gun).

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