The stories of seven lost US Navy submarines, the bravest Americans who will never come home

A World War II veteran watches the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade at Fort Derussy Beach Park, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 2016. Civilians, veterans, and service members came together to remember and pay their respects to those who fought and list their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)

4.  USS Swordfish (SS-193)

The USS Swordfish in 1939.
The USS Swordfish in 1939.

The sister of the Seawolf, the Swordfish was the first American sub to sink a Japanese ship during World War II. Unlike most of the World War II submarines we have mentioned thus far, Swordfish actually managed to stay in the fight until at least 1945, earning eight battle stars. In addition to sinking several vessels, she also ferried supplies to besieged island and even ferried the President of the Philippines, his family and several high-ranking officers. Ever the ballsy submarine, the Swordfish even blew up a cargo vessel- in Tokyo Bay. She was depth charged until her electricals went out and nearly sank to the bottom, miraculously regaining power and limping home.

While the veteran of countless patrols, the Swordfish’s 13th patrol would be her last.

On January 2, 1945, the Swordfish was sent on a secret reconnaissance mission to Okinawa, in preparation for the pending invasion.

During her special mission, she was ordered to divert away and hang tight until the US had finished conducting airstrikes in the area. Swordfish’s last communications were to acknowledge her orders. After over one month passed without word, she was presumed lost.

In the report of her loss, it is reported that the submarine USS Kete (SS-369) contacted a submarine by radar, ten days after the Swordfish embarked on her mission. A few hours later, the Kete reported heavy depth charging in the area, which is believed to be how the Swordfish met her mysterious fate. Her resting place -as well as the fate of her 69 crewmembers- is unknown.

Interestingly enough, the tale of the Swordfish brings us to our next ill-fated submarine…

Author

  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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