|Mare Island Navy Yard
|15 Jan 1943
|17 Aug 1943
|15 Oct 1943
|25 Oct 1944
|1,490 tons standard; 2,070 tons submerged
|Four Fairbanks-Morse Model 38D8-? 9-cyl opposed-piston diesel engines (5,400shp), four Elliott electric motors with reduction geras (2,740shp), two 126-cell Sargo batteries, two screws
|11,000nm at 10 knots on surface, 48 hours at 2 knots submerged
|6x533mm forward torpedo tubes, 4x533mm aft torpedo tubes, 24 torpedoes, 1x127mm 25cal deck gun, 1x20mm Oerlikon cannon
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseUSS Tang was commissioned into service in late 1943 as the Pacific War was already well underway. On her first war patrol, she encountered Japanese ships for the first time before sunrise on 17 Feb 1944; she survived a depth charging by the convoy escorts and then torpedoed and sank the transport Gyoten Maru. Five days later, she attacked another escorted convoy, sinking Fukuyama Maru; she shadowed the convoy for another one to two hours before striking again, sinking Yamashimo Maru with four torpedoes, which went down after suffering terrific explosions. These first successful attacks would prove to be a prelude of her successful career that saw the sinking of 31 Japanese vessels totalling 227,800 tons. During her second war patrol, she was placed on lifeguard duty near Truk in the Caroline Islands, and she rescued 22 airmen in one mission; this set a record, and earned the crew a Presidential Unit Citation.
ww2dbaseIn Sep 1944, Tang departed from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States for her fifth war patrol. As requested by the commanding officer Richard "Dick" O'Kane, the submarine was dispatched to the heavily patrolled Taiwan Strait between the island of Taiwan and mainland China. On 23 Oct, she detected a large convoy consisting of three tankers, one transport, one freighter, and several armed escorts. Tang was able to reach the center of the convoy and hit the nearest ship with two torpedoes, one torpedo with the second nearest, and three torpedoes with the furthest. As she prepared to attack one of the tankers, the crew realized that her target as well as the Japanese transport were attempting to ram. Tang was able to avoid the ramming attempts and caused the two Japanese ships to collide with each other; meanwhile, she fired four stern torpedoes at them, sinking them both. After the attack, Tang made her exit without being detected; her lookouts reported that some Japanese anti-aircraft gunners were shooting into the sky at phantom planes, indicating that the Japanese did not realize it was a submarine that caused the havoc. This would prove be her last successful attack.
ww2dbaseOn the following day, she spotted another large convoy off the island of Niushandao, Fujian, China in the northern area of Taiwan Strait, with some of the transports carrying crates of aircraft. Tang fired two torpedoes at each of two transports and a tanker at the distance of 900 to 1,400 yards; a brief moment later, she fired stern torpedoes at another pair of transport and tanker. Five of those ships would be sunk after 10 of the 11 torpedoes struck their targets; an escorting destroyer was also sunk, either hit by a stray torpedo or was destroyed by an exploding tanker nearby. Before USS Tang escaped the area, she noticed a damaged transport within attacking distance, and O'Kane decided to finish off the transport. The torpedo was fired at 0230 hours on 25 Oct, and the torpedo was reported to be running "hot, straight, and normal". Unexpectedly, however, the torpedo turned to the left and began a circular run. Tang began emergency maneuvers to avoid the torpedo that was coming back, but against all odds, she was struck in the stern near the aft torpedo room. She sank to the depth of 180 feet, or 55 meters. Japanese escorts remained in the area to depth charge her, as the Japanese were not certain of the degree of damage. An electrical fire was started by the depth charging. In a stunning feat, with the aid of Momsen Lungs, some of them escaped the submarine, making them the first humans to reach the surface of the sea from such depth. Of the 83 aboard, only 9 survived, and they were rescued by Japanese ships. The survivors were considered special prisoners by the Japanaese and not considered prisoners of war, as they were submariners and American submarines had attacked Japanese civilian ships without restriction.
ww2dbaseTang's performance in late Oct 1944 would win her commanding officer O'Kane a Medal of Honor.
Alex Kershaw, Escape from the Deep
Last Major Revision: Dec 2010
Submarine Tang (SS-306) Interactive Map
Tang Operational Timeline
|15 Dec 1941
|The construction of submarine Tang was ordered.
|15 Jan 1943
|The keel of submarine Tang was laid down.
|17 Aug 1943
|Submarine Tang was launched at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California, United States; she was sponsored by Mrs. Antonio S. Pitre.
|15 Oct 1943
|USS Tang was commissioned into service with Lieutenant Commander Richard O'Kane in command.
|30 Nov 1943
|USS Tang was delivered to the US Navy.
|8 Jan 1944
|USS Tang arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
|22 Jan 1944
|USS Tang departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for her first war patrol to the Caroline and Mariana Islands area.
|17 Feb 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transport Gyoten Maru, hitting her with three of four torpedoes fired.
|22 Feb 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transport Fukuyama Maru with four torpedoes.
|23 Feb 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transport Yamashimo Maru with four torpedoes.
|24 Feb 1944
|USS Tang sank a Japanese freighter, hitting her with three of four torpedoes fired.
|25 Feb 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transport Echizen Maru.
|26 Feb 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transport Choko Maru.
|16 Mar 1944
|USS Tang departed Midway, starting her second war patrol in the waters near Palau Islands, Caroline Islands, and south of the Philippine Islands.
|24 Mar 1944
|Submarines USS Tang, Sealion (Balao-class) and Tinosa rendezvoused south of Danjo Gunto and began operating as a wolfpack in the shipping lanes off Nagasaki in southern Japan.
|8 Jun 1944
|USS Tang departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, starting her third war patrol in the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea.
|24 Jun 1944
|USS Tang attacked a Japanese convoy in the East China Sea off the coast of Japan and reported sinking two ships. Post war Japanese records showed that four ships of that convoy, Tamahoko Maru, Tainan Maru, Nasusan Maru, and Kennichi Maru, were attacked and sunk on that date.
|26 Jun 1944
|USS Tang attacked a Japanese cargo ship with four torpedoes without success.
|29 Jun 1944
|USS Tang attacked the unescorted Japanese transport Nikkin Maru between Kyushu, Japan and Dalian, China with two torpedoes without success.
|30 Jun 1944
|USS Tang sank the unescorted Japanese transport Nikkin Maru with one torpedo between Kyushu, Japan and Dalian, China.
|1 Jul 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese freighter Taiun Maru No. 2 in the morning, and chased tanker Takatori Maru all day, finally sinking the tanker after sundown.
|4 Jul 1944
|In the morning, USS Tang sank Japanese freighter Asukazan Maru, hitting her with two of three torpedoes fired. In the afternoon, the transport Yamaoka Maru was sunk with two torpedoes.
|6 Jul 1944
|USS Tang sank the 39,100-ton Japanese transport Dori Maru off Dalian, China at about 0300 hours with two torpedoes. With this sinking, she obtained the record of the greatest total tonnage sunk by an American submarine during one war patrol.
|31 Jul 1944
|USS Tang departed for her fourth war patrol off Honshu, Japan.
|10 Aug 1944
|USS Tang attacked but failed to hit a tanker near Omaezaki, Japan.
|11 Aug 1944
|USS Tang sank Roko Maru and damaged another freighter with a total of five torpedoes, then endured a 38-minute-long depth charge attack.
|14 Aug 1944
|USS Tang attacked a Japanese armed yacht with her deck gun.
|21 Aug 1944
|USS Tang attacked a Japanese cargo ship with three torpedoes without success.
|22 Aug 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese patrol boat Nansatsu Maru No. 2, hitting her with one of four torpedoes fired.
|23 Aug 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transport Tsukushi Maru, hitting her with two of three torpedoes fired.
|25 Aug 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese tanker Nanko Maru No. 8 with two torpedoes.
|3 Sep 1944
|USS Tang arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, ending her fourth war patrol.
|24 Sep 1944
|USS Tang departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, starting her fifth war patrol in the Taiwan Strait.
|27 Sep 1944
|USS Tang departed Midway, where she stopped to refuel.
|11 Oct 1944
|USS Tang sank Japanese transports Joshu Go at about 0500 hours, hitting her with two of three torpedoes fired. Later in the day, at about 2100 hours, she sank Oita Maru with one torpedo.
|23 Oct 1944
|USS Tang attacked an escorted Japanese convoy consisted of three tankers, one transport, and one freighter. She penetrated to the center of the convoy without being detected and fired nine torpedoes, eight of which found targets. All five ships were sunk, and Tang was able to escape unharmed.
|24 Oct 1944
|USS Tang attacked an escorted Japanese convoy in the Taiwan Strait off the island of Niushandao, China, sinking five transports and tankers and one destroyer; among the sunken were, Kogen Maru and Matsumoto Maru.
|25 Oct 1944
|USS Tang attacked a Japanese transport, but the Mark 18 electric torpedo she fired circled back and hit Tang, sinking her. Only 9 of the crew of 83 survived the sinking.
|8 Feb 1945
|USS Tang was struck from the Naval Register.
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