USS Tang (SS-306)

Tang off the Mare Island Navy Yard in December, 1943. US Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

Laid down, launched, and commissioned in less than a year, USS Tang is credited as the most successful American submarine. Beginning her first war patrol on 22 January, 1944, she sank thirty-three ships in just nine months, totaling 116,454 tons. Tang conducted five patrols, including one where she rescued twenty-two airmen downed during attacks on the Japanese naval base at Truk. During Tang's final patrol, she was done in by one of her own torpedoes, that malfunctioned and circled back to hit her in the aft torpedo room. Tang went down, but some of her crew escaped, including six who made the only known escape by the Momsen Lung breathing device. Seventy-eight of her crew were lost, nine more were picked up by the Japanese.

Bonus Information

Tang's survivors were picked up by a frigate carrying survivors of ships which the sub had just sunk. When they found out, the Japanese took out their aggression on Tangs survivors. The commander of Tang, Richard O'Kane, later said  "When we realized that our clubbing and kickings were being administered by the burned, mutilated survivors of our handiwork, we found we could take it with less prejudice."