Twelve Tambor (SS-198) class diesel submarines were ordered 1939-40. They were built by Electric Boat (6), Portsmouth (4), and Mare Island (2). Tambor was laid down in January 1939. Tuna (SS-203) was the first to commission, in January 1940; Grayback (SS-208) was the last, in June 1941. The entire class was in commission when the US entered World War II. Seven of this class were lost to enemy action during World War II. The Tambor class were the base design for the very successful Gato (SS-212) class which was built 1941-43.
The pressure hull consisted of 11/16-in mild steel. Test depth was 250-feet. There were seven waterproof compartments in addition to the conning tower. They were equipped with four engine rooms, diesel-electric reduction gear, one auxiliary generator, four electric motors generating 5480 hp when submerged driven by two 126-cell batteries. Submerged endurance was 48 hours at 2 knots. Cruising range was 11,000 miles on the surface at 10 knots with 94,000 to 96,365 gallons of diesel fuel. Patrol duration was 75 days.
Five Tambor class boats survived the war. Four were decommissioned in December 1945. Thresher (SS-200) was recommissioned in February 1946 and prepared for use in the Bikini Atoll atomic tests but her use was cancelled; she was decommissioned in December 1946. Tuna (SS-203) was expended in the Bikini atomic tests, retained for radiological tests and then sunk in September 1948. Gar (SS-206) was the longest lived of the class serving in the reserves as a trainer at NTRC Cleveland OH until scrapped in 1959.
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