The Porpoise (SS-172) class was the first all-electric drive submarine, and the precursor to the World War II fleet submarines. With its new diesel engine, this design had a maximum surface speed of 19 kts. Auxiliary diesels avoided the need to drain the battery while operating surfaced. This reduced battery charging cycles from 150/year to 30/year, greatly extending battery life.
Four were authorized in the FY1934 program (SS-172 to 175) with six to follow in the FY1935 program (SS-176 to 181). These were partial double hulled designs; the first four had Winton diesel engines with 1,150hp each and three 100kW diesel generators; the six follow-on boats had two 235-kW generators and were the first boats to incorporate air conditioning as standard equipment. This class bore the pennant numbers P-1 thru P-10, except for the two unrelated units of the Shark class, which bore the pennant numbers P-3 and P-4.
The eight Porpoise class (P-boats) commissioned 1935-38. In July 1939, two months before the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Admiral Thomas Hart relieved Admiral Harry Yarnell as Commander, Asiatic Fleet, and faced with the growing threat, called immediately for reinforcements. In October, a month after Hitler rolled into Poland, the first fruits of that request arrived at Cavite: SUBDIV 14 from San Diego and Pearl Harbor, consisting of seven transitional "P"-class boats - Permit, Perch, Pickerel, Porpoise, Pike, Shark, and Tarpon. With the six old S-boats of SUBDIV 17, this made 13 submarines at Manila.
All eight Porpoise class (P-boats) served during World War II -- three boats were lost: Perch (SS-176), Pickerel (SS-177), and Pompano (SS-181). The surviving five boats were laid up in reserve in late 1945. All surviving boats with the exception of Pollack (SS-180) served as Naval Reserve training boats until scrapped in 1957. Pollack was scrapped in 1947.
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