Cape Cod National Seashore | Wood End

U.S.S. S-4 crash site

Torpedo room of the U.S.S. S-4 (1919), courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center.

Torpedo room of the U.S.S. S-4 (1919), courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center.

Thirty-four sailors, four officers, and two visitors were aboard the U.S.S. S-4 submarine for a trial run on 17 December 1927, when it was hit by the U.S.C.G. Paulding off Wood End. The sub sank more than 100 feet. A day later, a Navy diver pounded out Morse code on the hull: How many survivors? “There are six; please hurry.” Gale-force winds hindered the rescue. The Navy rebuffed assistance from local fishermen. “Please send us oxygen, food and water,” said a coded message on the 19th. The Navy could not. The rescue was abandoned on the 22nd. “There is a special terror in the memory of those men waiting, tapping their patient messages, and dying,” Mary Heaton Vorse wrote. “Everyone in Provincetown had a feeling that it was their individual task to save these men and no one could do anything.”


More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s