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Tang file photo [11714]

USS Tang

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassBalao-class Submarine
Hull NumberSS-306
Builder NameMare Island Navy Yard
Laid Down15 Jan 1943
Launched17 Aug 1943
Commissioned15 Oct 1943
Sunk25 Oct 1944
Displacement1,490 tons standard; 2,070 tons submerged
Length312 feet
Beam27 feet
Draft17 feet
MachineryFour 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
Speed20 knots
Range11,000nm at 10 knots on surface, 48 hours at 2 knots submerged
Armament6x533mm forward torpedo tubes, 4x533mm aft torpedo tubes, 24 torpedoes, 1x127mm 25cal deck gun, 1x20mm Oerlikon cannon
Submerged Speed8.75 knots


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 USS Tang (SS-306) Interactive Map

USS 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.
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 southwest of Kagoshima, 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 torpedo 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.


Tang (left) and Tilefish (right) under construction at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 1 Jul 1943, photo 1 of 3Tang (left) and Tilefish (right) under construction at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 1 Jul 1943, photo 2 of 3
See all 22 photographs of Submarine USS Tang (SS-306)

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Mike says:
27 Dec 2010 09:40:10 AM

Around 1990 I was at Disney World in Florida with my wife and friends. My buddy and I saw 2 men wearing Tang caps and we asked if they were on the Tang. I was very interested because I was reading "Clear the Bridge" at the time. The men said they were Tang crewmen and were there for their ship reunion and that Capt. O'Kane was there also. Unfortunately I do not remember the names of the men, nor did I have the book with me or I would have asked them to autograph it. I just finished reading "The Bravest Man" the story of Dick O'Kane. What a true hero. If either of the men I met remember that incident I would love to know who I met that day.
2. Robin Enos says:
3 Apr 2011 11:10:17 AM

My late father's cousin Melvin Enos was Commuications Officer on the Tang, decorated with a Silver Star posthumously for his role in the escape. The family still honors Mel, whose name is inscribed on the Submariner's Memorial at Pearl. Alex Kershaw's excellent new book and Adm. O'Kane's book both tell a heroic story. We can never thank these men enough.
3. Faustene Crumley says:
15 Dec 2012 06:51:47 AM

My first husband Sprague Enos was a first cousin to Melvin Enos. I would like to contact Robin Enos and share family data. Melvin was an only child. Such a sad loss!
4. mike pruitt says:
27 May 2014 09:44:07 AM

My dad served on Tang, Barb, Chub, Pilotfish. am trying to find more detailed reference sources to track his life. Name was John B Pruitt. Can anyone help? Also looking for any source of crew rosters. Thanks
5. Steve Mack says:
11 Mar 2015 10:20:41 AM

My Dad was helping to tie the Tang as she returned to port after her 2nd patrol, which resulted in the rescue of the 22 airmen. O'Kane asked my dad if he would like to go out on the next patrol. He jumped at the chance. Dad was on the 3rd and 4th patrol. At 92, he is still falling trees and splitting all of it by himself. His sister researched O'Kane and found a book signing and gave it to him about 30 years ago.
6. Anonymous says:
3 Sep 2015 11:25:19 AM

Mike Pruitt, "Clear the Bridge" by O'Kane and "Thunder Below" by Fluckey both have crew rosters listed in them. Not sure about the Chub and Pilotfish.
7. Meeting the "Greats" says:
13 Oct 2015 05:46:54 AM

I am writing this at the age of 71 yrs. I served on the U.S.S. Greenlet (ASR10) in Pearl in the mid-sixties. My commanding officer at the time was LCDR Wm. Leibold, a survivor of the Tang sinking, though I didn't know it at the time. Several times while on quarter-deck watch I welcomed onboard Admiral O'Kane (dressed as a civilian)and had a few words with him. I also met a visited with Admiral Gene Fluckey on the flying bridge of the Greenlet. How fortunate could a future submariner get? When I made 3rd class sonarman I got orders for the Tang but the Tang was on patrol. My orders were changed to the U.S.S. Gudgeon. Shortly after qualifying on the Gudgeon I got orders for FBM sonar school. After graduation my orders were to new construction of the U.S.S. Henry L. Stimson (Blue crew).
8. Anonymous says:
24 Feb 2016 03:58:37 AM

I rode the USS TANG SS563 tdy back in 1969. Could not help but "feel" the atmosphere of the 1st USS TANG SS306, who, in 8 months on patrol sank 33 enemy ships with a total of 116,454 tons. This is in addition to rescuing 22 airmen near Truk, the Caroline Islands during that period. Rest In Peace shipmates, each and every one. Truly Heroes.
9. Brad says:
2 Aug 2016 12:53:26 PM

Lt. Ed Beaumont was my dad's 1st cousin. He is on Eternal Patrol aboard the Tang. I only knew that the Tang sunk itself. A few years ago, I was reading a story of the Russian sub Kursk. The article included an interview with Clayton Decker, one of the Tang survivors. There were eight Clayton Decker's listed on line. I wrote one letter and sent it to all of them. Well, Clayton wrote back and put me in touch with Floyd Caverly who worked with Ed. I called Floyd and asked a lot of questions about Ed. I asked if he had any crew pictures because I had never seen a picture of him. Floyd sent me an 8 x 10 glossy that Ed sat for at Pearl Harbor. I sent a copy to the Museum at Pearl and they added his picture to the On Eternal Patrol site. Unbeknownst to me, I had a cousin who had been given all of the letters that Ed wrote to his mother (my great-aunt). I transcribed the letters - that included pictures of the girl he was going to marry - and pieced together all of the Tang information I could find. I made three loose leaf binders and gave two to each of my cousins old enough to remember Ed. I visited Admiral O'Kane's grave at Arlington and offered the best salute this AF vet could muster.

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Submarine USS Tang (SS-306) Photo Gallery
Tang (left) and Tilefish (right) under construction at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 1 Jul 1943, photo 1 of 3Tang (left) and Tilefish (right) under construction at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States, 1 Jul 1943, photo 2 of 3
See all 22 photographs of Submarine USS Tang (SS-306)

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