Nautical archaeologist David Switzer

From New Hampshire

The USS 0-9 submarine was undergoing a deep dive drill on June 20, 1941 off the Isle of Shoals when it sank, taking the lives of all 33 crewman.

The story of the American sub, and how it made it came to its end in New Hampshire, is the subject of a program at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the Amherst Town Library. David Switzer, consulting nautical archaeologist for the State of New Hampshire, will present “The Discovery of the Remains of the Submarine USS 0-9.”

The program is part of the February Marine Adventures series for adults.

During the latter years of World War I the U.S. Navy authorized a new class of submarine to augment the fleet of submarines already on duty in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Smaller than the previous class of submarines, so-called “0-class” boats were designed for patrol in waters around Ireland.

The war ended before the new submarines reached Europe. In the aftermath of the war, the 0 class was dispatched to Panama as training boats, but after a few years the 0 class submarines were mothballed and nearly forgotten when the clouds of war once more gathered over Europe and Asia.

Too old to serve on active duty, the World War I era submarines were designated for training seamen to serve in the post war submarine fleet. The training was to take place at the New London Connecticut Sub Base.

Following the first training phase the 0 Class subs underwent deep submersion or “squeeze tests” in order to ensure the strength of the hulls. The 0-8 and 0-9 arrived at the Kittery Navy Base in June, 1941 to undergo the deep dive. The 08 was the first, and completed her test near the Isle of Shoals, where the depth was 200 feet, the limit for the 0 class. The 0-9 left the Navy Yard the next day for her test. She never surfaced.

An indication that the submarine had met with severe problems was evident when floating debris was seen. It was clear that 0-9 had exceeded the depth limit. Navy divers braving extreme depth found the hull at a depth of 400 feet. Following a memorial service at sea, with the Secretary of the Navy in attendance, the 0-9 tragedy was displaced by concerns about the depredations of Nazi Germany.


World War I USS 0-9 submarine Isle of Shoals David Switzer New Hampshire