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S-28 (SS-133)


(SS-133: displacement 854 tons (surfaced), 1,062 tons (submerged); length 219'3"; beam 20'6"; draft 15'1"; speed 14.5 knots (surfaced), 11 knots (submerged); complement 38; 1 4-inch; 4 21-inch torpedo tubes; class S-1)

S-28 (SS-133) was laid down on 16 April 1919 at Quincy, Mass., by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 20 December 1922; sponsored by Mrs. Katherine B. Munroe, wife of Lt. Cmdr. William R. Munroe, Naval Inspector of Machinery.

S-28 enters her element at Quincy, Mass., 20 December 1922. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LC Collection, Box 49, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: S-28 enters her element at Quincy, Mass., 20 December 1922. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LC Collection, Box 49, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Commissioned on 13 December 1923, Lt. Kemp C. Christian in command, S-28 worked up in the waters off New England in January and early February 1924. She stood out from New London, Conn., at 1609 on 15 February and proceeded down the Thames River in company with S-23 (SS-128) en route to Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. While in the Caribbean, she called at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (29 February–2 March and 17–26 March), Port of Spain, Trinidad (3–13 March), Culebra, Puerto Rico (29–31 March), and Coco Solo, Canal Zone, (C.Z.) [Panama] (5–13 April). In addition to her numerous port visits, she fired her first three torpedoes during Battle Practice “A” held in Chiriqui Lagoon, C.Z. on 15 April. She headed northward on 24 April at 1552.

Six days after she departed the Caribbean, S-28 moored alongside the submarine tender Savannah (AS-8), outboard of S-24 (SS-129) and S-26 (SS-131) at 97th Street, New York City. On 10 May 1924 got underway at 1405 and S-28 stood down the Hudson River. She entered the Thames River and moored on the north side of Pier C, New London, two days later at 0710. Assigned to Submarine Division (SubDiv) 11, she stood out to sea for short-range gunnery practice on 15–16 May along with the rest of her division. While her crew scored five hits out of sixteen shots fired, her officers failed to score a single hit with their three shots. At the conclusion of gunnery practice, she returned to New London and moored at Pier D at 1725.

S-28 remained in New England for the next several months. On 24 November 1924, she stood out of New London at 0740 in accordance with Commander, Cruiser Force Operation Order No. 21-24. Two days later on 26 November, she moored alongside the dock at the U.S. Naval Academy at 1200, where she remained for the next five days. On 1 December, she continued her move southward when she cast off from the Academy pier en route to Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Fla., where she arrived a few days later.

During the winter of 1924-25, S-28 transited the Panama Canal and participated in Fleet Problem V from 23 February–12 March 1925. After the conclusion of the large-scale exercises, the submarine steamed to Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii (T.H.). While conducting local operations off Lahaina Roads, Maui, T.H., on 18 May she stopped and, with 25 sailors on deck, began to trim down by the bow to examine her propellers. Unfortunately, at 1315 she suffered a loss of depth control and submerged to 90 ft. She quickly blew her main ballast tanks and surfaced three minutes later. Thankfully, there were no casualties.

S-28 departed the Hawaiian Islands en route to Portland, Ore., at 1258 on 1 June 1925. She anchored in Astoria, Ore., Harbor alongside S-24, and S-25 (SS-130). In addition to conducting multiple training exercises in the harbor and the Willamette River, on 14 June she welcomed members of the public from 1300–1630. She concluded her visit and stood out for San Francisco, Calif., on 21 June at 0715, and reached her destination on 23 June at 2152. Soon thereafter, she proceeded to Mare Island at 0636 and moored at the navy yard alongside S-26 at 0910. Shipfitters began the submarine’s overhaul at approximately 0800 on 7 July, and she remained in yard hands for the next several months, eventually returning to San Diego, Calif., in early January 1926.

Assigned to the Submarine Detachment, Blue Fleet, S-28 got underway for her participation in Fleet Problem VI at 0440 on 1 February 1926. En route to Balboa, C.Z. four days later, the boat experienced a fire in the motor room bilge that forced her to come to a halt at 0720 on 5 February. Fortunately, the blaze failed to cause any significant damage and the submarine resumed course at 0742. She reached her assigned area and began the fleet problem at 0600 on 11 February. Later the same evening at 1845, S-28 began maneuvering into position for a surface attack on an unknown number of the Black Fleet light cruisers, and simulated firing a four-torpedo spread at the warships ten minutes later. Unfortunately, she would not detect the enemy fleet again until 13 February, the final day of the problem. At 0525 on that day, she submerged and fired two practice torpedoes at some enemy cruisers. Less than three hours later, the submarine again sighted enemy cruisers off her port bow. Unable to dive because of a fully discharged battery, she changed course to 065° at 0810 and simulated firing four torpedoes at 0815.

Shortly after the simulated attack, S-28 proceeded ahead on course 105°T at 0823. At 1003, she shut down both engines and proceeded on motors as she collected data on the pressure and drag introduced by a hole in her superstructure on the port side aft. Unfortunately, available records do not detail how the boat incurred this damage, nor when it was repaired. She completed the data collection and steamed ahead on both engines at 1014.

As she steamed to the east-northeast at 1306, S-28 sighted a group of four Black Fleet cruisers and a destroyer off her port bow. As the latter vessel closed, the submarine dove at 1324 and began maneuvering into a firing position. She came to course 045° and fired four practice torpedoes at 1333.

After the conclusion of the exercises at 2200 on 13 February 1926, S-28 remained with the fleet and moored at Pier 18, Balboa, C.Z., at 1857 on 15 February. While there, the submarine took on provisions (15–22 February), after which she resumed training. At 0050 on 26 February, she landed a raiding party on Taboga Island, Panama, and the raiders rendezvoused with their boat in Taboga harbor nearly eight hours later at 0840. The apparently successful completion of the landing marked the end of S-28’s training period with the fleet. After brief port visits to Balboa and Panama City, she exited the canal en route to San Diego on 13 March.

At 0805 on 10 May 1926, S-28 entered the Marine Railway at the Destroyer Base, San Diego. From 1200–1600, yard workers painted the underside of the boat’s hull with one coat of anti-corrosive and one coat anti-fouling paint. She remained on the marine railway overnight to allow the paint to dry. She gradually reentered the water from 0757–0818 the next morning and cleared the marine railway under her own power a little over ten minutes later.

S-28 stood out of San Diego at 1115 on 11 June 1926 and set course for Mare Island. Guided by a harbor pilot and the district harbor tug Unadilla (YT-4), the submarine entered Berth B at the Navy Yard at 1150 on 13 June. Two days later, she entered Dry Dock No. 2 at 1100 for a brief but extensive overhaul. Over the next four days, yard workers removed and repaired her No. 3 periscope, replaced a section of hull plating located near her starboard side stern post, and replaced her 4-inch gun. She exited dry dock at 1445 on 17 June.

After a brief port visit to San Francisco (18–21 June 1926), the boat steamed northward in company with SubDiv 11, less S-25 and S-29, and made port visits in Astoria, (25–28 June), Everett, Wash., (28 June–2 August), Seattle (6–9 August) and Port Angeles (10–16 August). At 0645 on 16 August, Commander SubDiv 11 broke his broad pennant on S-28. At 0718, she stood out to sea in company with the Battle Fleet, Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur and Adm. Samuel S. Robison, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, embarked in Savannah. Early on 21 August, she moored port side of Pier No. 29 in San Francisco. The submarine spent the remainder of the year conducting training and other local operations in the waters off California.

On 18 February 1927, S-28 got underway at 1108 and proceeded from San Diego to Mare Island Navy Yard in accordance with ComSubDiv 11 Operations Order 2-27. Approximately three hours later, she entered Berth C-1 and began a lengthy maintenance and overhaul period. Ultimately, S-28 cast off from the Mare Island seawall at 1840 on 11 July 1927, a week shy of six months after her arrival. After a brief port visit to San Francisco (11–13 July), the submarine proceeded to Pearl Harbor, in company with the boats assigned to Submarine Divisions Eleven and Nineteen, the submarine tender Holland (AS-3) and the minesweeper [submarine tender] Ortolan (AM-45) on 13 July at 0800. She remained in the Hawaiian Islands conducting training exercises until late August.

S-28 returned to San Diego and moored alongside S-27 at 1055 on 9 September 1927. She got underway again and steamed north up the coast of California at 1600 on 21 September. The submarine reached her destination and anchored in San Pedro, Calif., harbor at 1415 the next afternoon. Unfortunately for her crew, the boat’s port visit lasted less than a day. She got underway at 0400 on 23 September en route back to San Diego, where she moored at 2127. During the remainder of the year, S-28 conducted additional training exercises (26–29 September and 28 November–1 December) off the coast of South Coronado Island, Mexico.

At 0800 on 30 March 1928, S-28 got underway on course 318°T in company with S-27 (SS-132). Several hours later at 0415 on 1 April, the boats submerged and conducted a training exercise until 0535. Approximately 30 minutes later the submarines parted, and S-27 proceeded independently en route to Mare Island Navy Yard, where she moored at 1242. A little over two weeks later, on 16 April, she entered Dry Dock No. 1 and began overhaul at 1112. She completed overhaul and stood out for San Diego in company with S-27 on 30 June at 1005. After a brief shakedown, S-27 moored at Broadway pier in San Diego at 0838 on 2 July. She remained in San Diego conducting local operations for the next three months.

S-28 cast off from alongside Argonne (AP-4) and stood out from San Diego Harbor on a training cruise at 1055. Several hours later at 1425, she began a series of battle practice drills. At 1848, the submarine secured from her second torpedo battle practice of the day and anchored off South Coronado Island in company with destroyers Reno (DD-303) and Stoddert (DD-302) and S-27. She conducted three additional practice runs the next day. The submarine finally conducted a live fire torpedo practice at 0948 on 3 October 1928. Unfortunately, the torpedo passed abeam of its intended target. After recovering the torpedo, S-27 returned to San Diego harbor and moored port side to Argonne at 1340.

­S-28 stood out of San Diego again at 0830 on 10 October 1928 en route to South Coronado Island. From 1310–1330 she conducted a torpedo firing exercise, scoring four hits. The submarine recovered all four “fish” at 1426 and arrived at her destination approximately an hour and a half later. She conducted multiple sound tests over the next two days before returning to San Diego and mooring port side to Holland at 1130 on 13 October. Two weeks later, on 29 October, S-27 got underway once again at 1140, en route to the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs to her starboard main motor. She moored in the yard at 1020 on 1 November. With the repairs completed, the submarine stood out of Mare Island en route to San Diego ten days later. She departed her homeport for exercises twice more that month (19–21 November and 26–27 November) and ended the year with tactical exercises in the Coronado Islands (4–14 December).

On 15 January 1929, Commander SubDiv 11 broke his broad pennant on board the submarine at 0800. After refueling (0910–0935), she got underway and stood out of San Diego en route to Magdalena Bay, Mexico, for Fleet Problem IX, which began just after midnight on 23 January 1929. Assigned to the Black Fleet, Train Force, she was not assigned a specific task other than to arrive in the Gulf of Panama six days later. She successfully completed this assignment, mooring in Berth “Roger” One, Panama Bay just after 0800 on 29 January. She stood out of the bay and proceeded to Balboa the next morning, then remained in the Canal Zone for the next eight days.

Rather than immediately return to San Diego after the conclusion of the problem, S-28 remained with the Battle Fleet as it continued to conduct training exercises in the waters off Panama. On 7 February 1929, she got underway at 0356, leading SubDiv 11 in column, astern of SubDiv 19, out of Panama Bay. Several hours later at 0920, she made visual contact with an “enemy” warship ten miles distant. The submarine continued to shadow the vessel until she turned and steamed toward her at 1030. She anchored in her patrol station, Bay of San Miguel, Panama, at 1555, and commenced charging her batteries. Her batteries charged, she weighed anchor, set course 262°T and began patrolling her assigned area at 0205.

Several hours later at 0937, S-28 detected a light cruiser 15 miles distant. Approximately a half hour later, she got underway on course 260°T and began closing on the opposing vessel. Unfortunately, she was unable to maneuver into an attack position and changed course to 350°T for a rendezvous with the remainder of SubDiv 11 six miles west of San Jose Light. The remainder of the submarine division joined her en route, S-24 at 1355, S-29 at 1505, S-25 (SS-130) and S-26 at 1810. At 1845, S-28 moored port side to Holland.

S-28 remained anchored in Balboa Harbor until early on 11 February 1929. Commander, SubDiv 11 broke his broad pennant on board at 0435 that morning, and the submarine got underway five minutes later. After she arrived on station in Panama Roads at 0940, the submarine submerged and conducted radiated susceptibility testing from 1015–1121. Later that afternoon, she anchored near the Pearl Islands at 1358 and conducted submerged salvage experiments from 1624–1806. After a night spent recharging her batteries, S-28 weighed anchor and proceeded to the waters off Pedro Gonzalez, Panama, in company with S-25, S-45 (SS-156) and Ortolan at 0807 on 12 February. She laid to off the island at 0845 and conducted salvage experiments for the next several hours.

The submarine remained anchored in the Pearl Islands until she got underway on course 90°T at 0405 on 14 February 1929. At 0655, she arrived on station for a fleet tactical exercise and began patrolling from 255°-45°T. Approximately an hour later, she set course 275°T en route to intercept destroyers sighted by V-1 (SF-4) (later Barracuda). Just prior to 0900, she sighted a cruiser and multiple destroyers off her port beam. She carefully maneuvered closer to her prey and submerged at 0949. However, shortly after the boat submerged, she abandoned her intended target in favor of bigger game. At 1000, S-28 sighted the U.S. Battle Fleet in cruising formation no. 1 steaming at 12 knots on course 10°T. She crept to within 2,000 yards and fired four torpedoes at battleships Wyoming (BB-32) at 1045 and Texas (BB-35) four minutes later. Just after 1100, she quickly submerged to avoid a collision with an unidentified destroyer, and then simulated firing another four-torpedo spread at California (BB-44). She set course 135°T and cleared the U.S. battle line at 1112. She moored in Balboa Harbor alongside Holland several hours later at 2013.

S-28 remained in the waters off Balboa for the next thirteen days. On 26 February 1929, she got underway and set course for the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica, where she arrived at 1837 the next evening. The submarine successfully completed a simulated attack on Holland at 0931 and anchored in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, harbor at 1110. She subsequently made a port visit to La Union, El Salvador (7–12 March) before returning to her homeport at San Diego eleven days later.

The boat remained in San Diego conducting training exercises until early May 1929. On 8 May, S-28 got underway from alongside Holland at 0815. Approximately four and a half hours later, she laid to transferred people to S-27 prior to setting course 135°T. She arrived on station off South Coronado Island, Mexico, at 1504. At 0935 the next morning, she got underway once again for exercises with the Battle Fleet. As she conducted a submerged patrol just past noon, a periscope sweep sighted a group of seven battleships escorted by three destroyers. She maneuvered to within 2,800 yards before unleashing four practice torpedoes at an unknown number of New Mexico-class battleships. She remained undetected for the remainder of the afternoon. At the conclusion of tactical exercises with the Battle Fleet, S-28 set course for Mare Island. She moored at the yard outboard of S-27 at 2004 on 13 May 1929, and remained in the yard undergoing maintenance for the next three months.

S-28 finally cast off from the Mare Island Navy Yard dock at 1304 on 13 August 1929 and returned to her homeport in San Diego two days later at 1921. She remained in port for just six days.

At 0813 on 19 August 1929, S-28 stood out of the harbor, once again en route to the waters off South Coronado Island, where she arrived a couple hours later. She remained in the area conducting battle practice drills for the next three days, before returning to San Diego and mooring alongside Argonne (AS-10) at 1820 on 23 August.

S-28 in the 1920’s, painted in a predominantly gray scheme with her identification number in white with black shadowing, standing out of Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, CR-17936, National Archives and Records Administration, ...
Caption: S-28 in the 1920’s, painted in a predominantly gray scheme with her identification number in white with black shadowing, standing out of Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, CR-17936, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

S-28 began the New Year conducting regular safety and attack drills in the waters off San Diego from 5–23 January 1930. On 18 February, she entered the Marine Railway at the Destroyer Base, San Diego, where she underwent a brief overhaul, during which several of her valves were replaced. The boat left the railway at 1050 the next morning.

After another period of daily exercises (6–12 March 1930), S-28 stood out of San Diego en route to Monterey, Calif. in company with SubDiv 11 and the submarine rescue vessel Ortolan (ASR-5) on 13 March. She anchored in Monterey Harbor at 0818 the next morning and remained there for the next four days. S-28 got underway on her second annual full power trial at 1024 on 17 March. As she steamed south, she sighted and passed the destroyer Hovey (DD-208) and the minesweeper Tanager (AM-5) towing ex-Farenholt (DD-332) at 1535. Early the next morning, she sighted and exchanged radio messages with the battleship Idaho (BB-42) at 0420. Several hours later, she anchored in San Pedro Harbor at 1528. While anchored, she successfully completed battery charge factor “SC” in the trial at 2345. S-28 resumed her voyage south at 0131 and moored to Navy Pier, San Diego at 1000 on 19 March.

After she returned to her homeport, S-28 resumed a regular schedule of training dives and drills (27 March–14 April 1930). Unfortunately, an anchor line fouled her port screw and stern plane during a mid-morning dive on 15 April. She set course 340° and stood toward the calmer waters of San Diego Harbor, which she entered at 1245. Approximately a half hour later, she anchored off La Playa, Calif. At 1320, S-28 trimmed down forward and flooded her No. 1 ballast tank and torpedo tubes in an unsuccessful effort to clear the fouled screw. She got underway again at 1418 and anchored alongside Holland at 1515. A diver attached to the tender removed the obstruction and inspected the submarine’s port screw from 1600–1820.

On 1 July 1930, S-28 returned to the Hawaiian Islands in company with Holland, S-25, S-26 and S-29 from SubDiv 11, as well as the boats assigned to SubDiv 19, less S-42 and S-47. During the 11-day voyage, she participated in multiple gunnery training exercises and pointer drills. Finally, at 1457 on 12 July, she anchored in Berth No. 57, Lahaina Roads.

On 13–14 July 1930, S-28 bore sighted her deck gun and completed multiple short- and long-range practice attack runs. After the conclusion of these training exercises, she anchored alongside Holland in Berth No. 36 and loaded six rounds of 4-inch/50 caliber ammunition. Just after 0900 the next morning, Cmdr. William R. Munroe, Commander, SubDiv 11 (whose wife had christened the boat eight years before) boarded the submarine along with multiple unidentified umpires. At 0920, S-28 got underway on course 310°T, en route to an experimental gunnery range. She conducted a short-range gunnery exercise from 0950–0954. The submarine repeated the same drill again on 17–18 July.

Three days after completing experimental gunnery exercises, on 21 July 1930, S-28 conducted her first submerged long-range battle practice (LRBP) rehearsal run from 0630–0643. Approximately four hours later, she conducted a second rehearsal run. Rather than conduct a third practice run, the submarine bore sighted her gun during the early afternoon.

Just after 0400 the next morning, S-28 got underway on course 172°T for “day spotting practice.” She submerged at 0643 and completed both the spotting practice and her “official” LRBP rehearsal. From 1250–1352 she bore sighted her gun at 5,000 yards. Late that evening, she anchored alongside Holland and loaded 16 rounds of 4-inch .50 caliber ammunition.

On 23 July 1930, S-28 stood out of Berth No. 37 at 0507. She submerged on course 184°T at 0626. Ten minutes later, the submarine quickly surfaced and fired multiple rounds from her gun from 0637–0641. The boat submerged a minute later and fired four water “slugs” to complete the LRBP. After a full power run, she returned to Pearl Harbor at 1005 on 25 July. The boat remained moored for nearly three weeks.

In accordance with ComSubDiv Eleven dispatch 0113-1025, S-28 ended her brief period of inactivity and stood out to sea en route to San Diego in company with S-25, S-26, S-28, and S-29 at 1320 on 13 August 1930. Holland joined the group and took S-25 in tow three days later at approximately 0800. S-28 finally reached her homeport and moored to the north side of Navy Pier on 24 August at 1953.

S-28 resumed training shortly after returning to the continental United States. The submarine conducted daylong exercises on 29 August and 2 September 1930 and returned to the Coronado Islands on 17–18 and 22–23 September.

Less than 24-hours after S-28 returned to port, she stood out en route to Mare Island at 1007 on 24 September 1930. She moored at the submarine pier at the Navy Yard alongside Holland, V-1, V-3 (SF-6) (later Bonita), V-6 (SC-2) (later Nautilus), Henderson (AP-1), the destroyer tender Altair (AD-11), the refrigerated stores ship Arctic (AF-7) and the cargo ship Sirius (AK-18) two days later at 1650. Shortly thereafter, the harbor tug Tillamook (AT-16) maneuvered the open lighter YC-312 into place alongside the boat’s starboard side. The submarine’s overhaul began when three shipfitters’ helpers boarded at 0800 on 27 September.

After nearly a month, S-28 got underway again at 1305 on 24 October 1930. With the aid of unidentified harbor tugs, the submarine shifted position and stood in to Dry Dock No. 1 at 1340, whereupon workmen immediately boarded the boat and resumed her overhaul. While the details of the work performed on the boat are largely unknown, according to her deck log, at 1920 on 24 November, the submarine’s main battery was replaced with a 120-cell, type U.L.S. 49 “Ironclad” battery manufactured by Electric Storage Battery Co. of Philadelphia, Pa.

Yard workers flooded the dry dock at 0820 on 6 December 1930. S-28 re-entered the water approximately an hour later and moored in Berth R-1 at 1235. Unfortunately, she was still not yet ready to return to the fleet and remained moored in Mare Island for the remainder of the year.

Assisted by the motor tug YMT-4, S-28 got underway at 0839 on 12 January 1931. Led by a harbor pilot, the boat steamed down the Mare Island Strait through the San Pablo and San Francisco bays. At 1455, she secured to the dock at Point Richmond, Calif., outboard of the Richfield Oil Company Barge No. 1. The boat took on 7,182 gallons of diesel fuel from 1510–1720 and remained moored overnight. The submarine got underway again at 0728 the next morning and proceeded out to sea for two days of training. She returned to Mare Island and moored in Berth E-1 at 1420 on 15 January.

S-28 departed the west coast for Hawaii in mid-February 1931. She arrived at Pearl Harbor, T.H. on 23 February 1931. While based at Pearl, she conducted multiple local operations, interspersed with upkeep and maintenance at the navy yard, a routine that she unfailingly maintained over the next five years.

A week into the New Year [7 January] 1936, S-28 getting underway on course 138°T at 0636 and proceeding to her assigned patrol area. She arrived on station and commenced circling to maintain her position at 0750, diving approximately ten minutes later, quickly maneuvering into an attack position, and firing four water “slugs” at her target, the tug Keosanqua (AT-38), at 0832. She surfaced at 0833, set course 075°T and steamed to a second patrol area, designated “Q-3,” where she arrived at 0844. She dove and began a second practice attack on the fleet tug approximately a half hour later. While on course 150°T, however, S-28 collided with S-26 at 0937. As collision alarms sounded on board, the boat descended to 75 ft. before regaining depth control and surfacing at 0942, the submarine quickly determining that she had suffered broken masts and heavy damage to her bridge in the mishap. Damage assessment concluded, she set course 341°T and proceeded to Pearl Harbor at 1007, mooring port side to Ten Ten Dock at the Navy Yard at 1140.

S-28, painted black with her identification number in white, alongside Ten-Ten Pier, Pearl Harbor, February 1939, with a fleet tug, probably Keosanqua, on the opposite side of the pier. (S-28 File, Ships History Collection, Naval History and Heri...
Caption: S-28, painted black with her identification number in white, alongside Ten-Ten Pier, Pearl Harbor, February 1939, with a fleet tug, probably Keosanqua, on the opposite side of the pier. (S-28 File, Ships History Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command)

S-28 conducted short daily training, an annual multi-day war patrol, and participated in fleet training exercises over the next two years. In mid-1939, she was transferred back to San Diego, (with her home yard at Mare Island), where she was based until after the U.S. entered World War II in the aftermath of the Japanese onslaught in the Pacific in December 1941.

S-28 did not conduct her first war patrol until the spring of 1942, when she stood out of the Destroyer Base, San Diego, Calif., in company with S-18, S-23 and S-27 at 0829 on 20 May 1942. A little over an hour later, the submarines joined with their escort, the armed yacht Andradite (PYc-11). As the boats sailed southwest of the Farallon Islands two days later, the destroyer Talbot (DD-114) relieved Andradite as escort for the remainder of the voyage to the Puget Sound Area in accordance with Commander, Western Sea Frontier Forces Operation Order No. 2-42.

At 1330 on 25 May 1942, S-28 entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Wash. Just over six hours later, S-27 detached from the group and proceeded toward Puget Sound independently, while S-18, S-23 and S-28 entered and moored in Port Angeles, Wash., at 1945. The three boats refueled and took on additional provisions overnight. They rejoined Talbot and proceeded toward Dutch Harbor, Territory of Alaska, in accordance with Commander North Western Sea Frontier Movement Order No. 51-42 at 1404 the next afternoon.

Four days later, the submarines orders changed once again. At 0900 on 29 May 1942, S-29 received a message from Commander, Submarine Division 41 (ComSubDiv 41), which ordered each boat to proceed to her designated patrol area. As their assigned patrol areas were along their current track, the submarines remained in company and under escort by Talbot for another two days.

As she proceeded northward, S-28 encountered foul weather beginning on 31 May 1942. As the weather continued to worsen, a fire broke out in her portside main motor at 1148 the next morning. Fortunately, she quickly extinguished the flames and suffered only burned insulation and wiring. The submarine completed repairs and proceeded ahead at 1245. Late that evening at 2200, she released Talbot and steamed toward her patrol area alone.

S-28 entered her patrol area north of Latitude 54°N, just after 0500 on 2 June 1942. Ordered to attack any enemy forces approaching Cold Bay, T.A., S-28 chose to patrol the area between Pankof Breaker and Petrof Point, T.A. Unfortunately, she did not detect any enemy vessels in this area over the next nine days.

At 0930 on 11 June 1942, the submarine departed her patrol area en route to Dutch Harbor to refuel and take on additional provisions. Unfortunately, as she left her patrol area, a burned-out radio motor generator high voltage armature prevented her from notifying Navy officials. Several hours later at 1428, she sighted an aircraft approaching from bearing 325°T. Unable to identify the aircraft, she lit a recognition flare and dove. Five minutes later, a single bomb or depth charge exploded astern of the boat at position 53°57'25''N, 164°30'00''W. Fortunately, the explosion only damaged the face of her 100 ft. diving station depth gauge and rained down numerous paint chips on the heads of her crew.

After the conclusion of the attack, S-28 immediately began repairing her broken depth gauge. Nearly an hour later at 1520, she discovered that both of her diving station depth gauges had inadvertently been disabled during the repair and she had suffered a loss of depth control. According to the depth gauge in her torpedo room, she had inadvertently sunk to 250 ft. and subjected herself to a sea pressure of 105 psi. Fortunately, after the boat quickly returned to periscope depth, an internal inspection revealed no damage to her hull. She surfaced for the night at 2236.

Early the next morning at 0340, the submarine sighted and challenged what she believed to be a 1,200-ton destroyer bearing 320°T five miles distant. The potential target successfully answered the challenge and identified herself as the seaplane tender (destroyer) Hulbert (AVD-6). After identifying herself, the U.S. warship successfully notified Navy officials of the submarine’s imminent arrival in port. S-28 moored to the northwest side of the Dutch Harbor dock at 1114 on 12 June 1942. Over the next several hours, she refueled, took on provisions and obtained new orders from ComSubDiv 41.

At 2318 on 12 June 1942, S-28 got underway from Dutch Harbor en route to her designated patrol area near Kiska Island. Three days later at 1400, she crossed the 180° meridian. Over five hours later at 1939, she submerged and began patrolling approximately 50 miles off an unidentified enemy air base. Unfortunately, the increasingly foul weather she encountered at 0345 the next morning forced her to surface and attempt to determine her position every two hours. The weather finally broke and allowed the boat to obtain her position at 0436 on 17 June. She discovered she had inadvertently steamed into the patrol area covered by S-35 (SS-140) north of Segula Island, A.T. She immediately cleared the area en route to her own designated hunting ground.

In heavy seas at 0446 on 18 June 1942, the submarine finally reached her patrol area near Kiska Island. Several hours later at 1144, she sighted a Matsu-class Japanese destroyer bearing 265°T approximately 2,500 yards distant. Approximately five minutes later, the enemy warship turned toward S-28, forcing her to rig for depth charges and change course. As the enemy warship sailed overhead, the submarine backed away and maneuvered into firing position. At 1157, she fired her no. 1-2 tubes at only 600–800 yards. A little over two minutes later, her sonar detected the sound of a “pistol shot.” Unfortunately, she did not detect an explosion or sounds consistent with a ship breaking apart. Rather than attempt another attack, she cleared the area at 1200.

At 1905 on 22 June 1942, ComSubDiv 41 ordered S-28 to search north of Tanaga, Kanaga and Adak Island, for S-27, which had reportedly run aground three days earlier. Once again, amid increasingly foul weather, the submarine searched along the northwest coast of Tanaga Island from 1238–1624 on 24 June. As she approached Adak at 2030, Commander, Task Group 8.5 notified her that the stricken S-27 had been located.

At 0719 on 26 June 1942, S-28 received orders from ComSubDiv 41 directing her to return to Dutch Harbor. She ended her first war patrol moored port side of the fuel dock, NAS Dutch Harbor, two days later at 1533.

S-28 stood out of Dutch Harbor for her second war patrol at 0750 on 15 July 1942. She entered her patrol area three days later, at 0400 on 18 July. During her first two days on station, she conducted multiple unsuccessful reconnaissance patrols of Semisopochnoi Island, Little Sitkin Island, Little Sitkin Pass, and Khwostof Pass. At 2229 on 20 July, she departed the area en route to Sirius Point in compliance with orders issued by CTG 8.5.

The submarine arrived at her assigned station on bearing 308°T, 85 miles off Sirius Point, Kiska Island and began patrolling at 2340 on 21 July 1942. At 1524 the next afternoon, she received orders to close on Kiska and intercept enemy vessels attempting to escape the U.S. bombardment of the island scheduled to commence at 1900 that evening. Unfortunately, she found the area barren of enemy targets.

Early on 28 July 1942, CTG 8.5 ordered the submarine to intercept a two-ship convoy sailing at position 52°56'N, 176°39'E. Just over four hours later at 0507, she detected and began approaching a target on bearing 180°T. Unfortunately, she lost contact with this vessel at 0524, as well as another potential enemy target on bearing 190°T at 0550. Unable to regain contact with either target, she returned to her patrol area off Kiska at 2145 on 30 July.

S-28 sighted what she believed to be her first enemy contact of the patrol at 1045 on 31 July 1942. As she steamed through the Bearing Sea, she sighted a periscope bearing 335°T, 400 yards distant. Although she judged that the target was likely a Japanese submarine, S-28 chose to dive and break contact. Approximately four hours later at 1438, she sighted a surfaced enemy submarine six miles distant on bearing 270° Rather than engage the enemy in a surface battle, S-28 dove and commenced a submerged approach to the target. Unfortunately, a subsequent periscope sweep revealed no sign of the enemy boat.

Unable to regain contact with the enemy boat the next day, S-28 steamed out of the area and uneventfully patrolled the Khwostof and Little Sitkin passes from 2-5 August 1942. After yet another uneventful patrol off Kiska (6-8 August), she steamed into “Area Ratam” in accordance with CTG 8.5 “Zip Rock” the next day. Over the next five days (10–15 August), the submarine patrolled near Hat Island and Ogalala passes and conducted an additional reconnaissance patrol of Semisopochnoi Island. She departed the area in accordance with CTG 8.5 “Juneau” at 2100 on 15 August. Three days later, she ended her third war patrol and moored in Dutch Harbor at 0923.

Immediately after the boat reached port, the ship’s company began refitting her. Unfortunately, while recharging her batteries on 23 August 1942, S-28 burned out her starboard main motor brush rigging. Replacement equipment arrived from Mare Island, Calif., on 14 September and were installed the next day.

In accordance with CTG 8.5 operation order 15-42, S-28 stood out of Dutch Harbor and began her third war patrol on 16 September 1942. Unfortunately, the heavy seas and foul weather she encountered her first day on patrol tore the boat’s chart desk away from its moorings, “severely hamper[ing] bridge watch,” and damaged her no. 2 periscope hoist gear, which had frozen in an extended position. Rather than attempt to continue the patrol, she chose to retire northward to make repairs. At 0549 the next morning, she submerged to do so. She surfaced nearly five hours later and made repairs to her bridge from 1030-1126, after which, the submarine resumed her scheduled patrol.

As S-28 steamed on the surface at 0918 on 2 October 1942, her Officer of the Deck sighted an enemy submarine at position 51°48'N, 177°07'30''E. Unfortunately, a lengthy search of the area failed to locate the potential target. Assuming the sighting to have likely been an orca whale, the submarine abandoned the hunt at 1050.

At 1550 on 4 October 1942, S-28 began a submerged patrol of Vega Bay, T.A. Less than an hour later at 1644, she heard screws close aboard on bearing 195°T and sighted a 130–150 ft. long patrol vessel approximately 100–200 yards distant. The submarine immediately dove to 90 ft. and made for deeper water. Fortunately, the patrol craft did not launch depth charges as it sailed overhead. However, in the boat’s attempt to steam out of the area slowly, she took on too much water. At 1657, the submarine came to rest 215 ft. below the surface. A quick inspection determined that the boat had escaped damage, and she rose off the bottom and proceeded out of the area.

S-28 departed her patrol area en route to Dutch Harbor at 2006 on 6 October 1942. Four days later, she sighted and approached an unidentified vessel at 0552. As she prepared to attack, the torpedo in tube no. 1 inadvertently fired. Fortunately, the errant ordnance merely exploded at the end of its run four minutes later. After several additional attempts to communicate with the unidentified ship, S-28 cleared the area. She ended her third war patrol moored to the fuel dock, Dutch Harbor at 1240.

After the completion of her third war patrol, S-28 sailed for San Diego where she arrived on 23 October 1942. While on the west coast, she served as a training vessel for the West Coast Sound School (26 October–13 November) and underwent a refit (14 November–9 December).

S-28 stood out for Dutch Harbor on her fourth war patrol at 1044 on 9 December 1942. She arrived in the Aleutian Islands at 1437 ten days later. Rather than immediately taking to sea in search of enemy vessels, she underwent a five-day refit and crew rest period (21–26 December) and awaited further orders.

S-28 got underway at 0927 on 27 December 1942. Unfortunately, she encountered heavy seas and foul weather almost immediately after clearing the harbor. Unable to locate potential targets, she conducted multiple training exercises until entering her designated patrol area at 1500 on 4 January 1943.

Rather than abating, the weather conditions only worsened throughout the boat’s first day in her area. As she cruised on the surface at 2015, a large wave flooded her bridge and threw her port lookout from the port after corner of the boat to the forward starboard corner. Fortunately, the lookout only suffered a broken nose, one badly bruised leg and minor lacerations.

Early on 6 January 1943, S-28 sighted and steamed toward a light on the horizon bearing 190°T. Hoping that the light indicated the presence of a sampan fishing boat, her deck gun crew went out on deck during a heavy snowstorm. With extremely limited visibility, she unsuccessfully searched for the target until 0510.

S-28 detected a new target and went to battle stations at 2052 the next evening. Despite the inability to identify her prey, at 2133 she fired her no. 1–3 tubes at a range of 1,200 yards. Unfortunately, all three torpedoes missed. Undeterred, the boat resumed tracking and unsuccessfully attempted to close on the target over the next couple of hours.

A little over 24-hours later at 2356 on 8 January 1943, S-28 detected and began approaching a 4,000–5,000-ton two mast freighter bearing 240°T. She maneuvered into a favorable attack position and fired three torpedoes at 0051. As they had throughout her patrol, the heavy seas worked against the submarine once again, pushing all three off track. Rather than pursue the target, she surfaced and uneventfully patrolled from Horomushiro, Japan to Attu until she departed the area en route to Dutch Harbor at 1742 on 13 January. She arrived in port and concluded her fourth war patrol a week later, then underwent a refit at Puget Sound Navy Yard (22 January–4 February).

S-28 fresh from overhaul at Puget Sound, sporting a 20-millimeter mount on a platform aft of the conning tower and a cut-down fairwater. ((U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Collection, Box 527, National Archives and Records Administrat...
Caption: S-28 fresh from overhaul at Puget Sound, sporting a 20-millimeter mount on a platform aft of the conning tower and a cut-down fairwater. ((U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Collection, Box 527, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Two days later at 1350, she stood out of Dutch Harbor and began her fifth war patrol escorted out to sea by the coastal minesweeper Phoebe (AMc-57). She entered her patrol area at 0345 on 10 February and proceeded to Holtz Bay, Attu. She reached the bay and sighted a 3,000-ton Japanese freighter at 1325 the next afternoon. Convinced the enemy vessel would soon get underway, S-28 remained on station nearby for the next several hours. Unfortunately, she found herself approximately a mile out of position when the freighter got underway at 1644 on 12 February. Only able to close to within 4,000 yards, she gave up the pursuit at 0500 the next morning. In accordance with her operational orders, for the remainder of her patrol S-28 conducted reconnaissance of Attu (14-16 and 19-25 February), the Semichi Islands (16 February) and Buldir Island (20 February). She departed the area on 24 February and moored alongside the submarine dock, Iliuliuk Harbor at 1651 four days later.

S-28 departed Dutch Harbor and began her sixth war patrol escorted by the 173-foot submarine chaser PC-601 at 1100 on 13 July 1943. At 1030 four days later, she moored alongside the oiler Cuyama (AO-3), refueled, took on provisions and made minor repairs. The submarine and her escort departed and proceeded toward her assigned patrol area at 0800 on 18 July. She entered her assigned area and began patrolling off Kamchatka, Soviet Union, three days later at 0200.

The sea took a heavy toll on the boat during this patrol. Upon surfacing for the evening at 2232 on 22 July 1943, she discovered the decking forward of her gun missing as well as her towing pendant loose. Fortunately, she was able to lash the pendant back in place and resume patrolling off Kamchatka. Early on 25 July 1943, the Navy assigned S-28 a new patrol area, which she entered at 0245 the next morning. Her patrol area changed once again five days later. Early on 1 August, she began patrolling off Paramushir, Soviet Union. After she once again found little significant enemy naval activity in the area, at 1451 on 6 August, she began patrolling the coastal shipping lanes near Nishibanjo Suido, Soviet Union.

S-28 attempted her first attack of the patrol as she sailed in the northern Kuril Islands the morning of 7 August 1943. At 0742, the submarine sighted and began tracking an enemy cargo ship steaming at 10 knots approximately 5,000 yards south-southwest from her position at 50° 24'N, 156°36'E. Unfortunately, just as the boat maneuvered into a firing position ten minutes later, the enemy vessel “zigged” to port. Undaunted, she set up for a second attack at 0759, only to watch her prey turn to port once again. Rather than make a third attempt, she abandoned the chase and set off in search of a new target.

Fortunately, S-28 detected and began tracking a new target approximately six hours later. At 1458, she sighted the masts of an enemy freighter at bearing 350°T only eight miles distant. Unfortunately, just after 1500 a periscope sweep revealed the presence of rapidly approaching rocks, forcing the boat to change course to avoid running aground. Before she could maneuver into position for a second attack, “fog that dropped like a curtain” enveloped the freighter.

Despite the loss of another target, S-28 continued to find the waters of the northern Kurile Islands a rich target environment. Just after midnight on 8 August 1943, the submarine’s radar displayed a large “pip,” indicating the presence of a large cargo vessel approximately 6,300 yards distant. She continued to track the target, which only appeared as a “dark blur,” for another 18 minutes until momentarily blinded by a large phosphorescent wave at 0103. A minute later, her prey turned and steamed away at high speed.

S-28 departed her patrol area en route to Massacre Bay, Attu, just after midnight on 14 August 1943. She arrived in the bay and moored portside of Cuyama at 2128 two days later. The next day the ship’s company began a refit of their boat assisted by Submarine Base, Attu. The refit was completed and she was declared ready for sea on 8 September 1943.

S-28 stood out of Massacre Bay on her seventh war patrol at 1310 on 8 September 1943. Later that evening at 1723 she began a three-hour training period, during which she practiced both surfaced and submerged attacks, as well as “indoctrinational” depth charging. Despite the successful training period, she encountered the first major obstacle of the patrol a little over 24-hours later.

As she proceeded toward her patrol area, the submarine activated its SJ radar system at 2215 on 9 September 1943. She quickly identified and set about repairing the system’s malfunctioning range stop. As she was only two days out of port, she requested permission to return to Massacre Bay. Navy officials quickly denied the request and instructed the submarine to attempt to affect repairs on her radar at sea.

Because of her malfunctioning radar, and the likelihood of enemy air patrols, beginning at 1358 on 11 September 1943, S-28 submerged prior to each day’s patrol. In the midst of a rainsquall, she entered her patrol area at 0500 two days later. Fortunately, entry into her assigned hunting ground coincided with the successful completion of repairs on her radar system.

S-28 made her first contact with an enemy vessel at 1538 on 19 September 1943, when she sighted and began tracking a 4,000-ton freighter steaming at position 49°N, 151° 43'E. As she closed to within 1,500 yards at 1556, the submarine fired four torpedoes. Unfortunately, all missed. Before she could maneuver into position for a second attack, she received the first of five depth charges launched from 1602-1610.

As she continued her patrol across the Sea of Okhotsk, she sighted and began tracking the 1,368-ton No.2 Katsura Maru at 1918. She maneuvered to within 1,200 yards of her prey before firing four torpedoes, two of which struck the enemy cargo ship at 1944. The ship immediately listed 30° to starboard and sank bow first two minutes later.

Two unfortunate circumstances on 10 October 1943 forced S-28 to cut short her patrol. A little over two and a half hours after a sailor reported a possible case of appendicitis, MoMM2c Raymond J. Jacobs severely injured his thumb and two fingers when he caught his hand in the gears of an air compressor. The extent of Jacobs’ injuries forced CPhM Jim Perrish to amputate the mangled digits.

S-28 rendezvoused with her escort, the minesweeper Motive (AM-102) at 1845 on 12 October 1943. The two vessels proceeded to Pyramid Cove, Attu, where the submarine moored at 0846 the next morning. Unfortunately, her stay in the cove proved brief. To avoid an expected Japanese air raid, the submarine got underway for Dutch Harbor in company with PC-603 at 1620 on 14 October. She finally moored in the harbor and ended her seventh war patrol at 0830 on 18 October.

S-28 remained in Dutch Harbor until sailing for Pearl Harbor in mid-November 1943. After arriving in the islands and undergoing an overhaul, she served as a training boat for the next seven months. On 4 July 1944, she carried out anti-submarine warfare exercises in company with USCG Reliance. At approximately 1730, the submarine dove and began the day’s concluding exercise, a practice approach on the Coast Guard vessel. At 1805, Reliance made sonar contact with a submerged vessel presumed to be S-28 at a range of 1,700 yards. After the submarine crept to within 1,500 yards, the range increased until Reliance lost contact with her at 1820.

Beginning at midnight on 4-5 July 1944, the destroyer escorts Rall (DE-304), Crouter (DE-11) and Edmonds (DE-406) searched for the stricken submarine. Approximately an hour later, Crouter and Edmonds located a large oil slick “with a distinct odor of diesel oil.” Upon the recommendation of Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, the Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier discontinued the search for S-28 the afternoon of 6 July. Five days later, a Court of Inquiry convened at Pearl Harbor. Despite hearing four days of testimony, the Court was unable to determine the cause of the loss of the submarine.

Over 70 years later, in the early fall of 2017, a research team led by explorer Tim Taylor located the wreck they believed to be S-28. After an extensive investigation by the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox, USN (Ret.), NHHC Director, confirmed the discovery of the lost submarine on 2 July 2019.

S-28 was awarded one battle star for her service in World War II.

Commanding Officer Date Assumed Command
Lt. Kemp C. Christian 13 December 1923
Lt. Harold F. Ely 27 September 1926
Lt. Donald R. Osborn Jr. 11 June 1928
Lt. William A. Swanston 12 June 1929
Lt. (j.g.) Waldeman N. Christensen 16 December 1930
Lt. Clark L. Green 29 December 1930
Lt. Jasper T. Acuff 14 June 1932
Lt. Chester L. Walton 3 March 1933
Lt. Robert H. G. Johnson 1 June 1934
Lt. William L. Wright 29 June 1935
Lt. (j.g.) Bennett S. Copping 15 May 1936
Lt. (j.g.) John O. R. Coll 26 February 1937
Lt. Albert C. Burrows 20 June 1938
Lt. Edward C. Stephan 22 May 1939
Lt. John D. Crowley 26 July 1941
Lt. Vincent A. Sisler Jr. 20 March 1943
Lt. Guy F. Gugliotta October 1943
Lt. Jack G. Campbell 8 June 1944

Christopher J. Martin

16 April 2020

Published: Thu Apr 16 13:24:13 EDT 2020