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|Ordered:||18 July 1955|
|Laid down:||25 January 1956|
|Launched:||27 August 1957|
|Commissioned:||15 September 1958|
|Displacement:||2570 tons surfaced, 2861 tons submerged|
|Complement:||87 officers and men|
|Armament:||six 21-inch torpedo tubes|
The contract to build her was awarded to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard of Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 18 July 1955, and her keel was laid down on 25 January 1956. She was launched on 27 August 1957 sponsored by Mrs. Eugene C. Riders, and commissioned on 15 September 1958 with Commander Shannon D. Cramer, Jr., in command.
Swordfish completed fitting out and held her shakedown in the Atlantic. After post-shakedown availability and subsequent sea trials along the east coast, she was assigned a home port in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, effective 16 March 1959. She steamed to Hawaii in July and was the second nuclear powered submarine to join the Pacific Fleet, joining USS Sargo (SSN-583). Assigned to Submarine Squadron 1, Swordfish steamed over 35,000 miles during her first year in commission with over 80% of them submerged.
In January 1960, Swordfish deployed to the western Pacific for four months and became the first nuclear submarine in that area. During this time, President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-Shek was embarked for a one-day indoctrination cruise. She deployed to WestPac again on 20 June and on this occasion took President of the Philippines Carlos P. Garcia to sea for a one-day demonstration. The submarine conducted local operations in the Hawaiian area from January to May 1961. In late May, the submarine got underway for the west coast of the United States where she operated between San Diego, California, and San Francisco, California, with various Pacific Fleet units. Swordfish returned to Pearl Harbor on 14 July and operated locally until September when she deployed to the western Pacific for two months.
Swordfish sailed to Mare Island in January 1962 and became the first nuclear submarine to be overhauled on the Pacific coast. She returned to Hawaii on 29 September for refresher training and local operations. On 26 October, the submarine was again deployed to WestPac.
In the autumn of 1963 Swordfish observed from close range a Soviet anti-submarine warfare exercise in the North Pacific. She was detected, but the Soviets were unable to force her to surface. The mission provided recordings of the Soviets' radio chatter and plots of their radar search patterns.
Swordfish continued operating from Pearl Harbor, on local operations and on deployments to the western Pacific, as a member of Submarine Division 71 until 30 June 1965 when she was assigned to SubDiv 11 which was also based there. In late 1965, Swordfish was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation for special operations from 8 October to 3 December 1963, from 22 September to 25 November 1964, and from 20 May to 23 July 1965.
Swordfish arrived at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard on 1 November 1965 to undergo a refueling and Sub Safe overhaul which lasted until 31 August 1967. Sea trials were held in September and weapons trials in early October. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 October and conducted refresher training until 31 December 1967. The period 1 January to 2 February 1968 was spent in preparation for overseas movement. Swordfish deployed to the western Pacific on 3 February.
On 11 March 1968, the Soviet submarine K-129 sank in the central Pacific. On 17 March, Swordfish put into Yokosuka, Japan, for emergency repairs to a bent periscope. The United States Navy states that Swordfish was damaged in an ice pack and that K-129, with her nuclear missiles and crew of 98, was destroyed by an internal explosion while some 2000 miles distant from Swordfish.
In May 1968, anti-nuclear activists alleged that Swordfish had released radioactive coolant water into the harbor of Sasebo, Japan where she was moored at the time. Some sources state that Japanese scientists discovered levels up to twenty times normal background, others, that they could not detect any increase in radioactivity. The Japanese protested the incident to the United States, and Japanese Premier Eisaku Sate stated that U.S. nuclear ships would no longer be allowed to call at Japanese ports unless their safety could be guaranteed.
Swordfish returned to Pearl Harbor on 5 September and remained in port the remaining four months of the year.
Swordfish conducted local operations in the Hawaiian area from 1 January to 11 May 1969 at which time she again deployed until 4 November. The remainder of the year was spent in a leave and upkeep period. She was deployed on special operations from 24 February to 9 April 1970 and then entered drydock at Pearl Harbor for an availability period which lasted until 30 September. The remainder of calendar year 1970 was spent conducting a period of crew training necessitated by the yard period.
Local operations during 1971 were broken by a tour in WestPac from 24 March to 22 September. During this deployment, the submarine visited Yokosuka, Buckner Bay, Pusan, and Hong Kong. Swordfish continued local operations until 26 June 1972 when she entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her annual overhaul which lasted through 31 December 1973. Upon completion of the yard period, Swordfish resumed operations with her Pearl Harbor-based squadron.
Swordfish was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry on 2 June 1989. Her disposal through the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program (SRP) was completed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 11 September 1995.
Swordfish earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, two Navy "E"s, eight Navy Unit Commendations, four Vietnam Service Medals, and a classified number of classified awards.
Russia has repeatedly requested copies of Swordfish's logs to trace her at the time K-129 was lost, but The Pentagon refuses to release them; Swordfish was involved in highly sensitive operations at that time. The United States has salvaged some parts of K-129, and has provided the Russian government with a videotape of a burial-at-sea ceremony for six crew members whose remains were recovered when Glomar Explorer recovered parts of K-129 in 1974.