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US Navy Photograph Photo # 80-G-K-13791 - National Archives

USS Swordfish ready for launching at Mare Island Navy Yard, 1 April 1939


US Navy Photograph Photo # 80-G-K-13792 - National Archives

USS Swordfish afloat after launching at Mare Island Navy Yard, 1 April 1939


USS Swordfish (SS-193) was commissioned on the 22 July 1939. Lt. Chester C. Smith was appointed her skipper. Following her shakedown and after post-shakedown repairs were carried out, she was given her orders to sail to the Pacific Area but not until early 1941 when she arrived at Pearl Harbor. On 3 November 1941, she departed Pearl Harbor in company with three other submarines the names of which are unknown and headed for the Philippine Islands, arriving at Manila on the 22 November 1941.

The USS Swordfish, remained at Manila until the Japanese Forces, launched their attack on Pearl Harbur on that fateful day of the 7 December 1941, then on the following day she sailed on her First War Patrol, for the East Coast of China, off the coast of Hainan. She sighted a number of enemy vessels and on the 9th December 1941. She sank an unknown name cargo ship of some 3,900 tons at 14-30N 119-00E , and on 14 December 1941, she sank the cargo ship " NIKKOKU MARU '' of 2,728 tons at 18-05SN 109-18E and again on the same day she damaged an unknown cargo ship of 9200 tons at 18-08N--109-22E and again she attacked a cargo ship " KASHII MARU''* of some 8,407 tons, at 18-08N 109-23E. This vessel beached it self. On the 16 December 1941 she closed on another enemy ship and fired three torpedoes, one hitting the vessel amidships and so she sank the '' ATSUTASAN'' a cargo ship of some 8,663 tons at 18-06N 109-44E. The ship erupted in a cloud of smoke and flames and was sent to the bottom.

On the 27 December 1941, the USS Swordfish embarked the organisational staff of the Submarines Asiatic Command Staff at Manila and headed for Soerabaja, Java, arriving there on the 7 January 1942,and it was on the16 January 1942 that the Swordfish sailed on her Second War Patrol, this was to be conducted in the Celebes Sea and in the Philippines. On the 24 January 1942, that she sighted a Japanese cargo ship the "MYOKEN MARU' of some 4,124 tons at 01-26N 125-10E. The Swordfish fired torpedoes at the Japanese vessel and sent it to the bottom off Kema, Celebes Islands. Also on the same day she sighted an other cargo ship, name unknown, of some 5,000 tons at 01-26N 125-10E and sank her with torpedoes sending it also to the bottom.

While still on patrol on the 14 February 1942, she sighted a cargo ship, name unknown, of some 5,000 tons and again fired her torpedoes and sank this ship at 01-26N 125-10E, then on the 14 February 1942, she damaged the cargo ship "AMAGISAN MARU"  of some 7,620 tons at 06-45N 126-54E and again on the 19 February 1942, she sighted a tanker, again name unknown, of some 5,000 tons at 14-32N 120-08E. She too was sunk.

It was then on the 20 February 1942, that she submerged in the entrance of Mariveles, Luzon, during daylight and then when it was safe to do so, she surfaced after dark to take on board the President Manuel Luis Quezon of the Philippines and his family and then sailed through the minefield and safely arrived at San Jose, Panay, Philippines, where the Presidential and his party were transferred to motor tender. USS Swordfish departed and went back to Manila Bay and embarked with the Vice President Osmena, the Chief Justice Santos and the High Commissioner Joaquin Elizalde of the Philippines, and USS Swordfish set sail for US Navy Submarine Base in Fremantle, Australia and arrived there on the 9 March 1942.

After a refit and rest for the crew, Swordfish got underway from Fremantle, on the 1 April 1942 for her Third War Patrol with 40 tons of provisions for the besieged island of Corregidor. As she sailed towards Corregidor, the island fell into the hands of the Japanese. The submarine was given orders to patrol in the area of Ambon Island, and the only ships she sighted were beyond effective range, therefore she again sailed for Fremantle, arriving there on the 1 May 1942.

USS Swordfish, again left Fremantle, Australia, on the 15 May 1942 on her Fourth War Patrol with orders to patrol the South China Sea, when on the 23 May 1942, she sighted a Japanese cargo ship of an unknown name and again sank this cargo ship of some 5,000 tons at 02-21S 118-34E. On the 29 May 1942 she again sighted another tanker, the "TATSUFUKU MARU" of some 950 tons. This tanker had been hit by the USS Seal (SS-183), but the tanker continued on course for four more hours until the USS Swordfish hit her with two torpedoes and she sank at 07-33N 116-18E.

On the 6 June 1942, USS Swordfish sighted a cargo ship of some 6,500 tons, name unknown. USS Swordfish torpedoed it but only damaged the cargo ship. On the 12 June 1942 when in the Gulf of Siam, USS Swordfish again sighted a Japanese cargo ship, the 'BURMA MARU', of some 4,585 tons and sank it at 10-12N 102-29E. She then sailed for Fremantle, Australia, arriving there on the 4 July 1942. Captain, Lt. Chester C. Smith left USS Swordfish as he was unwell at the time and was replaced by Lt. Commander Albert C. Burrows who took over command of the USS Swordfish.

Lt.Comdr. Burrows as Captain of the USS Swordfish took her out on her Fifth War Patrol into the Sulu Sea, but this patrol only lasted some 55 days and she returned to port. As Lt Commander Chester C. Smith was well again, he took her out on her Sixth War Patrol to the Solomon Islands, but this patrol proved very unproductive and Swordfish returned to US Navy Submarine Base in Brisbane, Australia after a total of 50 days on patrol. Lt Comdr Chester C. Smith was reassigned elsewhere after this patrol.

Again the Swordfish left Brisbane on her Seventh War Patrol, and it was on the that patrol that she sighted an unknown named cargo ship, of 6,300 tons, and sent it to the bottom. On the 16 November 1942 she again sank a cargo ship of some 4,400 tons again name unknown. Then on 19 January 1943 after sighting a Japanese Cargo ship of some 4,122 tons, the submarine fired her torpedoes and sank the '' MYOHO MARU" at 05-38S 152-26E. She continued on patrol until the 23 February 1943. USS Swordfish returned to Pearl Harbor, and underwent an overhaul which lasted till the 29 July1943. She then got headed out on her Eighth War Patrol.


Bureau of Ships Collection Photograph # 19-N-51811 - National Archives

USS Swordfish underway off San Francisco, California, 13 June 1943


On her Eighth War Patrol it was on the 22 August 1943, that she sighted her first target, the transport ship '' NISHIYAMA MARU',' at 02-53N 136-21E. She fired two well placed torpedoes and sent the transport to the bottom, and again on the same day a second transport came into view, this ship was of some 8,400 tons, and she also went to the bottom at 02-53N 136-21E. On 5 September 1943 she sighted a convoy and USS Swordfish damaged a very large tanker and then went on to sink a cargo ship "TENKAI MARU'' at 01-35N 141-45E. Swordfish then made her way again to Brisbane, Australia, arriving there on the 20 September 1943.

USS Swordfish departed Brisbane, on her Ninth War Patrol, but this lasted only three weeks and when she arrived at assigned patrol area it was then discovered she had material defects and she was forced to return to Brisbane, for repairs. After repairs were carried, out she left Brisbane. This was the last time that Swordfish was in Australia and then on the day after Christmas Day 1943, she sailed on her Tenth War Patrol, which was conducted in Tokyo Bay. On the 14 January 1944, she sighted a cargo ship ''YAMAKUNI MARU" of some 6,925 tons, and sank her at  33-51N 139-54E. Two days later she again sank a converted gunboat, now a cargo ship ''DELHI MARU'' of 2,205 tons.

On the 27 January 1944 she fired two of her torpedoes at a converted salvage ship, now a passenger/cargo ship "KASAGI MARU" of 3,140 tons at 33-30N 139-35E. The torpedoes broke the ship in half and sank. Swordfish then terminated her patrol and this time returned to Pearl Harbur on the 7 February 1944 and remained there until March 1944.

From then on the Swordfish was stationed at Pear Harbur during which time she went on her Eleventh and Twelfth War Patrols, during which she accounted for one Japanese Destroyer "MATSUKAZE" of some 1,270 tons, and later went on to sink a cargo ship "KANSEISHI MARU" of some 4,804.tons and a number of Japanese Trawlers.

It was then on the 22 December 1944 that she cleared Pearl Harbor and set sail on her Thirteenth War Patrol for the area of Nansel Shoto. Her mission included a photographic reconnaissance of possible invasion beaches on Okinawa. Lt Cmdr Keats E Montrose was her skipper at that time.

She was last seen by USS Kete (SS-369) on 12 January 1945. She was ordered to acknowledge orders that were sent to her on the 3 January 1945, and that was the last time that anyone heard from her. On the 15 February 1945, after repeated attempts to contact her by radio had failed, she was presumed lost with all hands, a victim of causes unknown. It was presumed that she may have been sunk by an enemy minefield or a depth charge attack. Eighty-nine men were lost at sea, never to return.

This gallant submarine the USS SWORDFISH (SS -193) earned eight Battle Stars for her World War II service.





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This page first produced 4 November 2007

This page last updated 19 January 2020