March 19th, 1918 the S-16 submarine was constructed by the Torpedo Boat Company of Bridgeport Connecticut. Launched on December 23rd, 1919 and commissioned on December 17th,1920. She would serve under Lt. Commander Andrew C. Bennett and left New London, Connecticut on May 31st, 1921. Sailing through the Panama Canal the S-16 traveled to California, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippine Islands and reached her new base at Cavite, Luzon on December 1st, 1921. For the next several years she would be placed on many active duties and patrolled the waters off China, Japan and the Philippines.

November 3rd, 1924 the S-16 was ordered back to the U.S. and for the next 12 years she was to patrol the California coast, Hawaii and the Panama canal. May 22nd, 1935 the S-16 was decommissioned and sent to Philadelphia for dry dock.

With the involvement of the United States in WW-II the S-16 was recommissioned on December 2nd, 1940. During World War two she would patrol the eastern coast of the United States with voyages to Bermuda, St. Thomas and the Panama Canal zones. During the last stages of WW-II the S-16 was again decommissioned on October 4th, 1944 and struck from the Navy list.


April 3rd, 1945 in calm seas just off Key West, Florida the S-16 was towed to her final resting place. With all hatches open the scuttle plugs were pulled and water rushed in, filling the inside compartments as the U.S. sailors scrambled up through the hatch- ways towards safety. With a blast of air from the open hatches the U.S. WW-I submarine S-16 dipped below the waves and to her final resting place.

Today the S-16 sets upright with a slight 20-degree tilt to her starboard side in 265 feet of water, 17 miles from Key West. Currents from the Gulf Stream flow over her hull and can make diving the sub very difficult to impossible. She is still in very good condition with little coral growth. Large amberjack and Barracuda circle above the submarine. Snapper and grouper hide within her water vents and hatches and an occasional shark can be seen darting in and out of view.

Interesting parts of the wreck include the conning tower, two large props and rudders. The large stern hatch into the steering room allows penetra- tion with a set of doubles, all others would require the removal of scuba equipment and possible a no mount system. Extreme caution should be taken as submarines are designed with tight cramped spaces in mind. Visibility will quickly be reduced to a few inches because of the percolation of rust from the walls. Multiple wires, pipes and grates are potential snag problems.

Divers: James Rozzi, Jim Webber and Curt Bowen. Special Thanks to Capt. Billy Deans