USS Cythera (PY-26)

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United States
OperatorWilliam L. Harkness
BuilderRamage and Ferguson, Ltd., LeithScotland
Launched20 September 1906
FateLeased to U.S. Navy 1917
 United States Navy
NameUSS Cythera (SP-575)
Commissioned20 October 1917
Decommissioned17 March 1919
FateReturned to owner 19 March 1919
United States
OperatorWilliam L. Harkness
AcquiredReturned by U.S. Navy 19 March 1919
FateAcquired by U.S. Navy 31 December 1941
 United States Navy
NameUSS Cythera (PY-26)
Acquired31 December 1941
Commissioned3 March 1942
Stricken24 June 1942
FateSunk 2 May 1942
General characteristics
as U.S. Navy vessel
Displacement1,000 tons
Length215 feet (65.5 m)
Beam27 feet 6 inches (8.4 m)
Draft12 feet (3.7 m)
Speed12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h)
Armament3 x 3-inch (76.2 mm) gun mounts

The first USS Cythera (SP-575/PY-26) was a United States Navy patrol vessel that saw service in the Atlantic Ocean during both World War I and World War II.


The vessel was constructed in Leith, Scotland, originally laid down as the civilian yacht Agawa for William L. Harkness and launched on 20 September 1906.

World War I[edit]

The United States Navy leased the vessel from Harkness in 1917 for World War I service in the section patrol. She was commissioned as USS Cythera (SP-575) on 20 October 1917. Departing New York City on 27 October 1917, Cythera arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on 28 October 1917 and was assigned to Patrol Force, United States Atlantic Fleet. She departed Newport on 1 November 1917 with her squadron, and escorted and towed submarine chasers to European waters before arriving at Gibraltar on 29 December 1917. Based at Gibraltar, she patrolled and escorted convoys between Gibraltar and Mediterranean ports in France, Italy, and North Africa. She was decommissioned on 17 March 1919 and returned to Harkness on 21 March 1919.

World War II[edit]

After Cythera served as a civilian vessel for more than two decades, the U.S. Navy reacquired her from Harkness's widow Edith on 31 December 1941 for World War II service. She was classified as a patrol yacht and given the hull numnber PY-26. Her conversion into a patrol vessel was completed on 28 February 1942, and she was placed in service on 3 March 1942. On 2 May 1942, while escorting the Soviet tanker SS Ashkhabad, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-402 in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina.[1] Of the 71 crewmen on board Cythera at the time, only two survived. They were picked up by U-402 and made prisoners of war.


  1. ^ Blair 1996, p. 544.


  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War – The Hunters 1939–1942. Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°30′N 75°40′W / 33.500°N 75.667°W / 33.500; -75.667