A single "M" class boat was the result of an FY1914 decision to replace an FY1913 procurement with a double-hull design which was larger than the "K" class boats. Her design was known as EB-39E and she was to be an experimental submarine, twenty percent larger than an "L" class boat with almost twice the reserve buoyancy. The result was a more seaworthy but more crowded boat with poor ballast arrangement which caused her to be unstable when surfacing or diving. Test depth was reduced to 150 feet.
Laid down in July 1914, M-1 was commissioned in February 1918 and trained submarine crews out of Newport RI until her decommissioning in March 1922. The boat was considered a failure by the submarine community.
Early submarine classes such as E, H, K, L, M, N, O, and R, known as "pig boats" or "boats" because of their unusual hull shape and foul living conditions, ranged in displacement from 287 to 510 tons. The fastest "boats" achieved top surface speeds of 14 knots under diesel power. During World War I, US submarines were divided into two groups according to mission. Boats of the N and O classes, as well as some of the E type, patrolled American coasts and harbors in a defensive role. Some K, L, O, and E class boats conducted offensive, open-sea operations from the Azores and Bantry Bay in Ireland. They supported the Allied effort to maintain open sea lanes along the European coast and in the approaches to the British Isles.
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