Nautillus early 30s.jpg (36552 bytes)
USS Nautilus/Narwhal


Nautilus (SS-168) and its sister Narwhal (SS-167) were the US versions of the "U-Cruisers" in vogue during the late 20s and early 30s. Designed for long-range ocean cruising, these boats were as long as a Fletcher class destroyer, and displaced more. The fuel load alone was 732 tons, and the main gun armament consisted of two 6"/53-caliber weapons in single mounts fore and aft of the conning tower. Nautilus and Narwhal are easily identifiable by the raised midship gundeck surrounding the conning tower. Four single torpedo tubes were fitted beneath this deck in 1942.

The design proved impractical. These boats were both slow and lacking in maneuverability. During WWII they were mostly relegated to secondary tasks such as re-supplying guerillas and landing commandoes, though Nautilus participated in the raid on Makin Island.

USS Nautilus SS-168
Vital Statistics

Builder: Mare Island Navy Yard, 1930
Displacement: 2,915 tons surfaced, 4,050 tons submerged
Length: 371' long, beam: 33' 3"
Armament: two 6"/53 caliber
Range: 8,500nm @ 15kts
Maximum speed: 17kts on the surface, 8 kts submerged
Range: 18,000 miles @ 8kts, 10 miles @ 8kts submerged
Torpedoes: six 21" (4 forward, 2 aft) with 20 torpedoes
1942: four extenal 21" tubes fitted (2 forward, 2 aft) with 4 torpedoes
Complement: 90

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Nautillus Apr 42 02.jpg (22053 bytes)
Nautilus off Mare Island April '42
Note torpedo loading equipment
Nautillus Apr 42.jpg (20515 bytes)
Another view off Mare Island April '42
Narwahl 1935.jpg (61473 bytes)
Narwhal 1935 (note raised gun deck)
Narwhal.jpg (70964 bytes)
Narwhal (no date)