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The United States Navy Memorial

Navy Memorial Honoring the Men & Women of the Sea Services



Ship Designation: 
Date Lost: 
Saturday, June 12, 1943
Flooded During Training Exercise

R-12 (Lt. Cdr. E.E. Shelby) was lost between 1220 and 1225 on 12 June 1943 at Latitude 24°24’30” North and Longitude 81°31’30” West in 600 feet of water with the loss of 42 lives. The personnel on the bridge, two officers, including the Commanding Officer, and three enlisted men were the only survivors. Those missing consisted of fours U.S. Naval officers, two Brazilian Naval officers, and thirty-six U.S. Naval enlisted men.

At the time of the accident, R-12 was engaged in normal operations off Key West, Florida, being underway to take up her position for a torpedo practice approach. She was rigged for diving (except main induction was open and batteries were ventilating into the engine room) and riding the vents. The Commanding Officer was on the bridge in the act of turning the Officer of the Deck watch over to another officer when the collision alarm sounded from below and the report that the forward battery was flooding was passed to the bridge. Although the Commanding Officer gave immediate orders to blow main ballast and close the hatches, the ship sank in an estimated fifteen seconds from the time the alarm was sounded until the bridge was completely underwater.

It was the opinion of the Court of Inquiry that the cause of the loss of R-12 was unknown but probably was the rapid flooding of the forward part of the ship through a torpedo tube.

 In 2011 an expedition team aboard the RV Tiburon located and documented the wreck of the USS R-12.  Further work is planned for 2012.

Lost At Sea Log

Number of sailors in this log: 42

Namesort descending Service Branch