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The keel of USS S-28 (SS-133) was laid down in April of 1919, just months after the end of the First World War. This S-Class Submarine was commissioned December 13,1923 and spent sixteen years taking part in various Navy exercises in the Caribbean and eventually Pacific. When the bombs fell on December 7th she was being overhauled at Mare Island Naval Shipyard outside of San Francisco, California. She was one of several S-boats that were sent North to Alaska to defend the Aleutians against a possible Japanese invasion.

She saw action when the Japanese bombed the Aleutian Island port of Dutch Harbor just days after S-28 arrived in the area. She launched her first torpedo on June 18, 1942, missing her target. Her intended target, receiving no damage, subsequently attacked her. She would not take another shot until her third war patrol, in October that year when a ground in her fire-control circuits caused a torpedo to fire accidentally. The target escaped unharmed. The next three war patrols spotted no enemy vessels.

The USS S-28’s seventh war patrol got off to a similarly unpromising start when, on September 15, 1943, her port main motor began smoking and sparking; it took crew members fourteen hours to repair it. Four days later she launched a spread of torpedoes at an enemy ship that all missed The vessel began dropping depth charges that the S-28 was able to avoid.

The situation improved a few hours later when the boat fired a spread of four torpedoes at what turned out to be a 1,400-ton gunboat. Within three minutes Katsura Maru Number Two was sinking by the bow. At the conclusion of the patrol, S-28 turned south and made her way to Pearl Harbor for overhaul. For more than six months after the work was completed, she remained in the area for training. 

On July 3rd 1944, she ventured into the waters off Oahu with the Coast Guard cutter RELIANCE to conduct antisubmarine warfare exercises. The final exercise called for the S-28 to make a 30 minute simulated torpedo run that began at 1730.The Reliance took up station four nautical miles from theS-28 and began to run Ease North while the S-28 ran the reciprocal course a few miles south of them. After running about 1.6 nautical miles the S-28 turned toward the North and began her run. The last contact was made with sonar at 1820.  

The RELIANCE called for assistance, but the ensuing search was in vain. An oil slick appeared in the area two days later, but the water was so deep that an investigation was impossible. She was lost with forty-nine crew.

USS S-28 SS-133

  • Subtype/class: S class submarine 
  • Propulsion: diesel and batteries
  • Date built: 1919
  • Tonnage: 1261 disp (submerged)
  • Dimensions: 66.8 x 6.3 x 4.9 m
  • Material: steel
  • Engine: twin (NELSECO) diesels, 600 hp (448 kW) each; 2 x Electro-Dynamic
  •  Ridgway (S-18, S-20 through S-29), 750
  •  Horsepower (560 kW) each; 120 cell 
  •  Armament:
  •         4 x 21" torpedo tubes, 
  •         12~16 Mark 10 torpedoes 
  •         no TDC
  •          calibre deck gun  (1 x 3"/50 calibre or 1 x 4"/50 calibre or 1 x 5"/51)
  • Power: 1200 h.p. (rhp)
  • Speed: 14.5 knots
  • Yard no.: 319
  • About the loss
  • Cause lost: missing
  • Reasons: foundered
  • Date lost: July 4, 1944 
USS S-28 (SS-133)
ExpeditionUSS S-28CrewWar ServiceTeam