This is V-4 (SF-7) during submergence trials off Provincetown, Massachusetts, in June of 1928. V-4 (later renamed ARGONAUT) was the US Navy's first and only purpose-built submarine minelayer. One of the "V-boats", V-4 was the first of the large "cruiser" type submarines developed by the USN for a possible Pacific war with Japan. Like her near-cousins NARWHAL (SS-167) and NAUTILUS (SS-168), ARGONAUT was likely inspired by the German U-cruisers of the Great War. Originally designated V-4, and given the hull code SF-7 ("fleet submarine 7"), ARGONAUT was stationed in Hawaii for most of the 1930s and later became the flagship of Submarine Squadron FOUR (SubRon 4).
ARGONAUT is shown in the standard peacetime #5 Standard Navy Grey, with Mare Island 143 anti-fouling paint on the hull below the boot topping. Large insulated loop antennas run fore and aft for long range radio communication. ARGONAUT's minelaying apparatus occupied the stern compartments, with two hull openings aft for mines. Four torpedo tubes forward were supplemented by the heavy deck armament of two 6"/53-caliber guns. As built, ARGONAUT went to sea with three periscopes; the forward-most scope ("Number 1 scope") was a lightweight periscope used to check for obstructions while surfacing. It supplemented the two full-size periscopes atop the fairwater, but was later found to be unnecessary and removed during later refits.
This is ARGONAUT (SM-1) in October of 1941 while stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She is camouflaged in Measure 9, the overall black camouflage preferred by the Pacific fleet submarines. Little changed from her 1930s appearance, ARGONAUT has received a large escape trunk aft, and the prominent insulated radio loops have been replaced with modern wire antennas for long range radio reception. Like most of the USN submarines of the period, the JK sonar some has been fitted on a small tripod mount on the bow. This depiction of the boat shows all periscopes lowered.
This is ARGONAUT (SM-1) in July of 1942, at the conclusion of a refit period at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California. She is camouflaged in Measure 9's overall black.
ARGONAUT's refit period at Mare Island was essentially a complete modernization, with the boat receiving new engines, air conditioning, a torpedo data computer (TDC), and a negative tank. Obvious external changes included the addition of the SD air search radar (replacing the old telescoping radio mast), new long periscopes, and the SJ surface search radar on a small pole mast ahead of the scopes. The periscope shears were enclosed, and a small DF loop added above the pilothouse on the fairwater for underwater HF reception. The JP hydrophone system sits below the old JK dome sonar. Two external torpedo tubes with provisions for two reload torpedoes were fitted right aft at the stern.
ARGONAUT set out for the Pacific after this refit, stopping in Pearl Harbor, where the complicated and expensive minelaying equipment was removed to accommodate 120 Marine Raiders for the Raid on Makin.
ARGONAUT would be lost to a depth charge attack on 10 January 1943, with 102 men killed in action - the worst loss of life on an American submarine in wartime.
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