Friday, February 02, 2007

Fullbore Friday

Time to look back to one of the greats - sure only 5 wartime patrols under one Skipper (!!!!) - buy oh what a show. USS Tang SS-306. Read all about her and Skipper O'Kane and her men, but let's just focus on her last battle.
Following an overhaul at Pearl Harbor, Tang began her fifth war patrol on 24 September 1944. She topped off fuel at Midway, then proceeded to the Formosa Strait. On the night of 10-11 October, she put down the freighters Joshu Go and Gita Maru. Tang continued her patrol, making contact with a large convoy on 23 October.

She closed three ships in a night surface attack, two of her torpedoes hitting the closest, one more hit the second, and two more blasted the stern of the farthest ship. While lining up her stern tubes on a tanker, Tang had to maneuver quickly to avoid a transport, which was attempting to ram. Since the tanker was also trying to ram, the transport's efforts backfired, and she ended up ramming the tanker instead. Tang fired her four stern tubes at 400 yards, and the tanker sank. As Tang raced away to avoid the escorts the transport exploded.

The next evening, Tang found another convoy. She fired six torpedoes at three targets. Running parallel to the convoy while picking another target, she fired her stern tubes at another transport and tanker. The tanker blew up and a hit was observed on the transport. A destroyer, which had come around the tanker's stern, also blew up. The transport remained afloat, but was dead in the water.

Returning after hauling off to avoid a counter attack, Tang fired her last two torpedoes at the tanker. The last torpedo was defective and began a circular run. Tang put on full emergency power and maneuvered to evade, but the torpedo returned and struck her aft. O'Kane and eight others went into the water. Five more used their Momsen Lung escape gear to get to the surface from the sunken submarine. By morning, only nine, including O'Kane, were still alive to be picked up and imprisoned by the by the Japanese. They spent the rest of the war as prisoners. O'Kane received the Medal of Honor, retiring in 1957 as a rear admiral.


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