S-28 (SS-133) was laid down on 16 April 1919 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, Mass.; launched on 20 September 1922; sponsored by Mrs. William R. Monroe; and commissioned on 13 December 1923, Lt. Kemp C. Christian in command.
Following shakedown exercises off the southern New England coast, S-28 moved south in March 1924 to join Submarine Division (SubDiv) 11, in the final exercises of that year's winter maneuvers in the Caribbean. In April, she returned to New London with her division and commenced local exercises which occupied the remainder of the year. With the winter of 1925, she moved south again; transited the Panama Canal; and, after the conclusion of Fleet Problem V (conducted in the vicinity of Guadalupe Island) she arrived in the Hawaiian Islands for a month's stay. In June, she moved east, to San Diego, where her division replaced another which had been transferred to the Asiatic Fleet.
Into 1931, the submarine operated primarily off southern California deploying for fleet problems in the Panama Canal area in 1926 and 1929; for summer maneuvers in Hawaiian waters in 1927 and 1930; and for regularly scheduled overhaul periods at Mare Island Navy Yard throughout the period.
She departed the west coast for Hawaii in mid-February 1931 and, on the 23d, arrived at Pearl Harbor, whence she operated for the next eight and one-half years. In mid-1939, she was transferred back to San Diego, where she was based until after the United States entered World War II.
On 7 December 1941, S-28, then a unit of SubDiv 41, was undergoing overhaul at Mare Island. On 22 January 1942, the work was completed, and she returned to San Diego, where she resumed her prewar training activities for the Underwater Sound Training School. She continued that duty into the spring; then was ordered north, to the Aleutians, to augment the defenses of that Alaskan island chain which rimmed the north Pacific.
On 20 May, S-28, with other submarines of her division, departed San Diego. Five days later, they topped off at Port Angeles, then continued on toward the newly established submarine base at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska. On the 29th, however, as preparations were made to minimize a two-pronged Japanese thrust against Midway and the Aleutians, the S-boats were directed to proceed to their stations, bypassing Dutch Harbor.
During a quickly extinguished fire in her port main motor on the morning of 1 June, S-28 suffered minor damage. That evening, she parted company with her sister ships and their escort; and, the next day, she entered her assigned area and commenced patrolling the approaches to Cold Bay on the tip of the Alaskan Peninsula. On the 3d, the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor to open the war in the Aleutians; and, within the week, they had occupied Kiska and Attu. On the 12th, S-28 arrived at Dutch Harbor; refueled; took on provisions; and headed west to resume her war patrol.
On the 15th, she crossed the 180th meridian; and, on the 17th, after a two-day storm, she sighted Kiska and set a course to intercept enemy shipping between there and Attu. On the 18th, she fired on her first enemy target, a destroyer, and was in turn attacked. Eight hours later, sounds of the destroyer's search faded out to the south. S-28 had survived her first encounter with Japanese antisubmarine warfare tactics.
Poor weather soon returned and storms raged during eighty percent of her remaining time on station. On the 28th, she moored in Dutch Harbor and commenced refit. On 15 July, she got underway and again headed for the Kiska area. On the 18th, she reconnoitered Semisopochnoi, then moved on to Segula. Finding no signs of Japanese activity, she continued westward. On the 20th, she was ordered to take station on an 85-mile circle from Sirius Point prior to sunrise on the 22d, at which time the enemy's facilities on Kiska were to be bombarded. The bombardment was delayed, and S-28 remained on that more distant station until the 30th when she was ordered back into the Kiska area. On 18 August, having been unable to close any of the targets sighted during the latter part of her patrol, she returned to Dutch Harbor.
On her third war patrol, 16 September to 10 October, S-28 returned to the Kiska area. She operated to the north of the island until the 25th; then, with the discovery of the enemy's development of Gertrude Cove on Vega Bay, she shifted to the island's southern shore. On the night of 6-7 October, she turned toward Unalaska; and, on the morning of the 10th, as she prepared to fire on an unidentified vessel, a ground in her fire control circuits caused an accidental firing from the No. 1 tube.
That afternoon, S-28 arrived back in Dutch Harbor, whence she headed for home. She reached San Diego on 23 October; and provided training services for the West Coast Sound School and for the Amphibious Forces Training Group from 26 October to 13 November. Then, during an overhaul, she received a fathometer, a Kleinschmidt distilling unit, and SJ radar. On 9 December, she again sailed north. On the 16th, she reported by radio to TG 8.5; and, on the 21st, she returned to Dutch Harbor.
Six days later, S-28 departed on her 4th war patrol. On 3 January 1943, she crossed the International Date Line and, on the 5th, she entered her assigned area in the northern Kurils. Moving down the Paramushiro coast, she patrolled in Onekotan Strait; then headed north again and, on the 20th, passed Shumushu, whence she set a course for the Aleutians.
During her 5th war patrol, from 6 to 28 February, the World War I design submarine remained in the western Aleutians, patrolling across the Attu-Buldir-Sirius Point route and along the coast of Attu, particularly off Holtz Bay, Chichagof Harbor, and Sarana Bay. Poor weather and lack of speed, however, impeded her hunting.
On her return to Dutch Harbor, S-28 was ordered south; and, on 4 March, she got underway for Esquimalt, B.C., where, from 15 March to 15 April, she conducted sound tests and antisubmarine warfare exercises with Canadian Navy and Air Force units. She then continued on to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul and superstructure modification work. On 27 June, she started back to Alaska; and, on 13 July, she departed Dutch Harbor to return to the northern Kurils for her 6th war patrol.
Again she patrolled off Paramushiro and in the straits to the north and south of that island. Again she was hindered by the weather, obsolete design, and by mechanical failures. On 14 August, she headed east; and, on the 16th, she moored in Massacre Bay, Attu, and commenced refit.
The late arrival of needed spares from Dutch Harbor delayed her readiness for sea; but, on 8 September, S-28 departed the western Aleutians to return to the northern Kurils. On the 13th, she entered her patrol area. On the 15th, severe smoking and sparking from her port main motor necessitated fourteen hours of repair work. On the 16th, she transited Mushiru Kaikyo; and, on the afternoon of the 19th, she closed an unescorted freighter off the island of Araito. Her torpedoes missed their mark. The "freighter" turned and within minutes had delivered the first two depth charges of a ten-minute attack. The Japanese ship searched the area for an hour, then departed.
S-28 reloaded and continued her patrol. At 1916, she contacted a second unescorted enemy vessel. At 1943, she fired a spread of four torpedoes. At 1944, two of the four exploded. The target took on a 30° list and began to go down by the bow. At 1946, the 1,368-ton converted gunboat Katsura Maru No 2 sank, bow first, her stern vertical in the air. Five loud underwater explosions followed her disappearance. S-28 went deep and rigged for a depth charging which did not materialize.
Into October, S-28 hunted just north of Araito and off the coast of Kamchatka. On 5 October, she moved through Onekotan Strait and continued her patrol on the Pacific side of the Kurils. On the 10th, however, a serious personnel injury occurred, and an appendicitis case developed. The submarine turned toward Attu one day ahead of schedule.
On 13 October, she moored at Attu. The next day, she departed for Dutch Harbor, whence, in November, she headed south to Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor at mid-month and, after overhaul, commenced training duty. For the next seven months, she remained in Hawaiian waters, providing training services. Then, on 3 July 1944, she began training operations off Oahu with the Coast Guard cutter Reliance. The antisubmarine warfare exercises continued into the evening of the 4th. At 1730, the day's concluding exercise began. Contact between the two became sporadic and, at 1820, the last, brief contact with S-28 was made and lost. All attempts to establish communications failed. Assistance arrived from Pearl Harbor, but a thorough search of the area failed to locate the submarine. Two days later, a diesel oil slick appeared in the area where she had been operating, but the extreme depth exceeded the range of available equipment. A Court of Inquiry was unable to determine the cause of the loss of S-28. To learn more about the accident, click here.
S-28 was awarded one battle star for her services in World War II.