The submarine, little more than an experiment before 1900, became a key instrument of U.S. sea power as the years passed. Its exploits came to the attention of the Commanders in Chief, and several of them spent time on board boats. Each President who made the extra effort to understand the men, mission, and capabilities of the Silent Service had a profound impact on U.S. submarine development.
By all accounts, 26 August 1905 was a terrible day for a boat ride; northeast winds and driving rain raised the seas in Oyster Bay, Long Island, forcing the passengers in a small boat to don foul weather clothing for their trip to the USS Plunger (SS-2). The Plunger’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Charles P. Nelson, was escorting President Teddy Roosevelt for the first presidential dive on board a U.S. submarine.
1. Executive Order 366-B was codified by Navy Department General Order 9 on 9 November 1905.
2. “President Goes Far Underwater,” Washington Times, 26 August 1905. Navy Source Online, Submarine Photo Gallery.
3. Jerry N. Hess Oral History interview with Clark M. Clifford, Assistant to White House Naval Aide, 1945–46, Special Counsel to the President, 1946–50 (Washington, DC: 14 February 1973), 417–19.
4. “Eisenhower Takes First Dive in Atomic Submarine,” The New York Times, 27 September 1957.
6. Naval History and Heritage Command: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships; “USS Los Angeles IV (SSN-688) 1976–2011.”
7. Anecdotal information gathered from oral interviews with USS Cincinnati crew members EMCM/SS Luther Clark, ETC/SS E. Stewart Crick, and EMC/SS Michael Pajewski, 14–15 June 2019.