USS Tang

Laurence Shalenberger

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USS Tang was a Balao Class submarine commissioned in October 1943, and served in the Pacific Theater of operations during World War II. Her gifted and aggressive skipper, commander Richard O’Kane, was a man after the heart of Britain’s ghost admiral, Horatio Nelson, whose advice to any English Navy Captain during the Napoleonic War was, “To hell with manuveurs! Go straight at ’em.” In just five war patrols, O’Kane’s tang sank 33 Japanese ships, amounting to a total of 116,454 tons, more than any other American sub in the Pacific. In one of the tragic twists of the war, the torpedoes made by the navy’s torpedo station in New Port, RI, had a number of drawbacks that the top brass at NTS failed to acknowledge. They attributed any lack of performance to the poor ‘shooting’ of all submarine captains. On Oct. 24, 1944, Tang was sunk by her own torpedo and went down in 180 feet of water. Nine of her crew survived. Speaker, Laurence Shallenberger is an ExxonMobil retiree, with 55 years experience in the oil field. He joined the Houston Maritime Museum in January 2008 and has enjoyed giving tours as a docent and talks as a lecturer.

One Comment

  1. I am interested in resolving one discrepancy between the many sources of the last attack on October 24 and 25 1944. The USS Tang’s published (microfilmed) War Report seems to indicate that the last torpedo was fired at an unknown hour on the 24th and that it broached and circled hitting the Tang on the 24th. Yet, the captain’s later published book states that this occurred at 2:30 am on the 25th. Has there ever been a reconciliation of this the you know.
    Many thanks.

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