Launched at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company on 24 November 1918, R-5 was placed in commission on 15 April 1919, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Eric L. Barr. She served with SubDiv 9 through 1920, then was sent to San Pedro, CA in April 1921.
In January 1923 R-5 was used in the filming of the movie The Eleventh Hour. On 16 July she was sent to Pearl Harbor, where she remained for the next eight years. In December 1924, during exercises off Pearl Harbor, she rammed R-16, causing serious damage to both vessels.
She returned to the Atlantic in 1930, being assigned for training at the Submarine School. In April 1932 she was sent to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 30 June.
Recommissioned on 19 August 1940, R-5 reported to New London on 30 October. In December she sailed for Coco Solo, doing patrols in the Gulf of Panama until the end of October 1941, when she returned to New London. Following overhaul, she was assigned to patrols along the Bermuda-New England shipping lanes. Under the command of Dudley “Mush” Morton, she maintained these patrols during the U-boat offensive of 1942, twice making contact, and once launching an attack. She had no kills.
For the rest of the war, R-5 rotated between New London and Bermuda. She was decommissioned on 14 September 1945 and sold for scrap on 22 August 1946.
Builder: Fore River
Sponsor: Miss Margaretta King
First Captain: LCDR Eric L. Barr