Submarine USS S-29 (SS-134)
By: Robert Loys Sminkey,
Commander, United States Navy, Retired
The keel of USS S-29 (SS-134) was laid down on 17 April 1919 by the Fore River Plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation...a subcontractor of the Electric Boat Company of New York City, New York ...at Quincy, Massachusetts. The submarine was christened by Mrs. Ronan C. Grady and launched on 9 November 1922. The S-boat was commissioned on 22 May 1924 with Lieutenant James P. Conover, Junior, in command.
When commissioned, the S-1 Class coastal and harbor defense submarine was 219'3" in length overall; had an extreme beam of 20'8"; had a normal surface displacement of 854 tons, and, when in that condition, had a mean draft of 15'11". Submerged displacement was 1,062 tons. The submarine was of riveted construction. The designed compliment was four officers and thirty-four enlisted men. The boat could operate safely to depths of 200 feet. The submarine was armed with four 21-inch torpedo tubes...installed in the bow. Twelve torpedoes were carried. One 4-inch/50 caliber deck gun was installed. The full load of diesel oil carried was 41,921 gallons, which fueled two 600 designed brake horsepower Model 8-EB-15NR diesel engines manufactured by the New London Ship and Engine Company at Groton, Connecticut...which could drive the boat...via a diesel direct drive propulsion system...at 14.5 knots on the surface. Power for submerged propulsion was provided by a main storage battery, divided into two sixty-cell batteries, manufactured by the Electric Storage Battery Company (EXIDE) at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...which powered two 750 designed brake horsepower main propulsion motors manufactured by the Ridgway Dynamo and Electric Company at Ridgway, Pennsylvania...which turned propeller shafts...which turned propellers...which could drive the submarine at 11 knots for a short period of time when operating beneath the surface of the sea. Slower submerged speeds resulted in greater endurances before the batteries needed to be recharged by the engines and generators.
After duties in the United States northeastern ocean areas...operating from the United States Naval Submarine Base at New London/Groton, Connecticut, in 1924, USS S-29 (SS-134) visited the Territory of Hawaii from 27 April to 30 May...in 1925.
Operating mainly from the Mare Island Navy Yard at Vallejo, and from San Diego and San Pedro...all in California...into 1931, USS S-29 visited Hawaii in the summers of 1927, 1928, and 1930. The submarine also served in the Panama Canal area from February into March of 1926, and, during February of 1929.
Departing the Mare Island Navy Yard on 14 February 1931, USS S-29 transited to the Hawaiian Islands...and arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 23rd of February 1931. From then into 1939, the submarine operated out of the submarine base at Pearl Harbor.
Departing Pearl Harbor on 16 June 1939, USS S-29 transited to the Atlantic Ocean...and arrived at the United States Naval Submarine Base at New London/Groton, Connecticut, on 23 August 1939.
Following duty in the coastal waters of the northeastern portion of the United States from her New London/Groton base, and also in the Strait of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico from the United States Naval Station at Key West, Florida, from December of 1940 into May of 1941, USS S-29 provided services to the fleet and to shore commands up to the entry of the United States into the Second World War as an active participant...following the Japanese attack on the Territory of Hawaii on 7 December 1941.
USS S-29 served in the Panama Canal area from late December of 1941 into March of 1942...protecting that vital waterway from possible enemy attack.
Returning to New London/Groton on 1 April 1942, USS S-29 (SS-134) decommissioned, there, on 5 June 1942, and, was transferred on that date to the United Kingdom...in whose Royal Navy she became His Majesty's Submarine (HMS) P. 556.
On 2 September 1945, the Second World War officially ended with the signing of the instruments of surrender by the Japanese on board battleship USS Missouri...which was anchored in Tokyo Bay, Japan, for that occasion.
Returned to the United States Navy on 26 January 1946, USS S-29 (SS-134) was struck from the Navy List that year and sold, on 24 January 1947, to H. G. Pound of Great Britain, for subsequent scrapping.