Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster.Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible. BROADSIDE view of the submarine S-51 (SS-162) before she was launched at Bridgeport, Conn.
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.Photo from The Washington Times. Last Privately Built Submarine The United States submarine S-51 (SS-162) being launched at the yard of the Lake Torpedo company in Bridgeport Conn., and Mrs. A day in the life of active service during S-51's (SS-162) 39 months in commission in 1924. Rear Admiral Edward Ellsberg was commissioned in the Navy in 1914 and served on active duty until 1926.
Bodies from S-51 (SS-162) being loaded onto a destroyer on 26 September 1925, the morning after the sinking.
I am fortunate to have in my collection two first edition copies of Edward Ellsberg's fantastic book On The Bottom, in which he describes the sinking and salvage of the S-51 (SS-162). Although there were just three survivors of the S-51, ten men actually made it off the boat before she sank, including the CO, LT Rodney Dobson.
When Ellsberg arrived on the scene aboard the Falcon (AM-28) late the next day, Ellsberg described the ships on the scene as being the Camden (AS-6), the S-50 (SS-161), "several destroyers, another submarine, some smaller boats". During phase two, the salvage squadron consisted of the Falcon, the repair ship Vestal (AR-4), and tugs Luka (AT-37), Sagamore (AT-20), and Penobscot (YT-42). So, for the pictures that show the recovery of bodies from the S-51, both the destroyer (08_06_00632) and the two Camden photos (08_06_00604 & 00605) had to have been taken during the phase one rescue operation and most likely were of the five men who made it off the boat but later perished in the cold water.
The report also states that the tug Wandank (AT-26) and Bagaduce (AT-21) also briefly assisted the salvage effort, but these two tugs were not mentioned at all by Ellsberg. From another source, I discovered that the "other submarine" mentioned by Ellsberg as having been present on scene when the Falcon arrived on 26 September was actually the S-1 (SS-105) under the command of none other than Charles B. S-51 (SS-162) in dry dock after being raised, 5 June 1926, showing hole and mattresses, bunk frames, etc.
General location of the site of the ramming & sinking of the S-51 (SS-162) by the SS City of Rome. View of S-51 (SS-162) showing damage to bow and conning tower bent over to port during salvage operations. It was constructed by an employee of Lake and was supposedly a showpiece in Simon Lake's office.
Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the S-51 (SS-162).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Commemorative postal cover issued on the occasion of the 10th year of the passing of the loss of the crew of the S-51 (SS-162), 25 September 1935.


91kMemorial plaque at Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia PA, July 2006 for the crews of United States submarines lost during peace time accidents: F-1 (SS-20), F-4 (SS-23), G-2 (SS-27), H-1 (SS-28), O-5 (SS-66), O-9 (SS-70), S-4 (SS-109), S-51 (SS-162), Squalus (SS-192), Scorpion (SSN-589) & Thresher (SSN-593). In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 19th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. Order bright side marker, head light, per metal, per cover, Step Bumper, park light tail light. PROHIBITION did not prevent the launching of our latest submarine S-51 being carried out in the good old-fashioned way at Bridgeport Conn. Although there were just three survivors of the S-51, Apparently, a total of ten men made it off the boat, including the CO, LT Rodney Dobson, but later perished in the cold water. The first phase took place from 25 to 30 September 1925 and involved the initial efforts to raise the boat in order to rescue anyone who may be trapped inside. The three survivors were picked up by a small boat and eventually taken aboard the SS City of Rome, the ship that struck the S-51. No destroyers or other ships are ever mentioned as having been a part of the salvage efforts, except for a "large Navy derrick, the United States", and the S-3 (SS-107).
Since neither destroyers nor the Camden were present during phase two these pictures must have been taken on 26 September 1925, the morning after the sinking.
In phase one, Ellsberg describes that the initial rescue efforts were contracted out to a civilian firm which brought two large derricks out to the scene on 30 September.
The body of one of those seven who didn't make it was later found alongside the hull of the S-51.
This is probably due to their brief work, and also because they were not officially assigned to the salvage force.
This photo shows one of the commercial derricks, probably the Century, making an attempt to raise the S-51 during the phase one rescue efforts. Inside youll find blower motors, assemblies, condenser fan motors and more, all at our low-price guarantee. Phase two ran from 14 October 1925 to 05 July 1926 and involved the salvage and raising of the S-51. Curiously, Ellsberg's book has a picture of a flag draped body on the deck of a ship on page 69.
It was the S-1 that made the initial discovery of the S-51's wreck by spotting the oil slick left by leaks from damaged fuel tanks. American Parts Center is an auto parts salvage yard in Houston, Texas, specializing in American car and truck parts from 2000 through late-model current vehicles.
For that success he was promoted to the rank of Commander by an Act of Congress and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the Navy Department, since which time he has been popularly known as "Commander Ellsberg", regardless of his rank. The narrative would have you believe that this was one of the two men retrieved from the gun access trunk.


Mills used champagne which had been stored away especially by officers of the Lake Torpedo Boat Company. The three survivors were picked up by a small boat and eventually taken aboard the SS City of Rome, the ship that struck the S-51 . However, details of the ship shown in the photo reveal her to be the Camden and not the Vestal. Neither of the two derricks shown exactly match the configuration of the derrick in pictures 006571 & 00633. If only one was recovered, how could a destroyer and the Camden both bring bodies on board?
Five hundred carrier pigeons were released as the S-51 struck the water and carried the news West and South, telling the country that the last contract submarine of wartime origin had been successfully launched. Therefore, a photo from phase one made its way into the part of the book that took place during phase two.
Therefore it can be speculated that the derrick in the photos is actually the United States, and that the photo was probably taken during the first pontoon operation in late October 1925. That means that the photo in Ellsberg's book that I mentioned before had to have been of the one body that was recovered. Motor # 5KCP39EGT9745 as found in 222 Goodman Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps and Package units. It also means that the destroyer recovery photo was most likely not a body recovery at all. But the other boat shown in the photo is not the Sagamore and I am at a loss to identify her.
The last page of the report states that a total of nine bodies had been recovered by divers, almost assuredly phase two recoveries, but Ellsberg makes no mention of this at all, other than the two in the gun access trunk. That night, while off the coast of Block Island, the steamship SS City of Rome struck and sank the S-51 .
Besides, she had lost her name prior to the sinking and was just going by her hull number in 1925. Therefore the Triton in this photo was probably one of the "smaller boats" described by Ellsberg as having been on the scene.
Court rulings found both the SS City of Rome and the S-51 at fault for not following the rules of the road at sea.



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