In Memoriam - USS Tang (SS-306) - Sunk 24 October 1944
USS Tang (SS-306) was sunk while on her fifth war patrol, during an intense attack on a Japanese convoy. After sinking a destroyer and a tanker and damaging a transport, Tang closed on the transport, intending to sink her with the last two torpedoes remaining on board (the 23rd and 24th to be fired by Tang on this war patrol). The 23rd torpedo ran "hot, straight, and normal", however when the 24th torpedo was fired, it was observed to broach the ocean's surface and begin turning to the left in a "circular run".
Despite all attempts to escape the torpedo, Tang was struck at the aft torpedo room.
The explosion violently shook Tang, causing severe injuries as far forward as the Control Room.
Tang san by the stern, with the after three compartments flooded. The nine men from the bridge were thrown into the water and only three survived the night, swimming for approximately eight hours until they were picked up by the Japanese. A fourth man was able to escape from the flooded conning tower and was rescued as well.
Tang came to rest on the bottom, in 180 feet of water. The survivors inside the sunken submarine worked their way into the forward torpedo room, surviving a depth charge attack which started a fire in the forward battery compartment. Thirteen men were able to escape the sunken submarine, but only eight reached the surface. Of these eight, only five were able to swim until rescued.
Tang's nine survivors became Japanese Prisoners of War and despite harsh treatment and poor conditions, all survived to be rescued by American forces.
CDR Richard O'Kane received the Congressional Medal of Honor for Tang's fifth war patrol, which saw 22 of 24 torpedoes hit Japanese ships, sinking 13 vessels for a total of 107,324 tons, the most successful single war patrol of any American submarine.
In only five war patrols, Tang sank 31 ships for 227,800 tons and damaged two more. She also rescued 22 Navy arimen off the island of Truk during her second war patrol. She was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation twice.