U.S.S. TANG (SS 306)
Returned from the 4th patrol on 3 September, 1944 and
conducted normal refit at the U.S. Submarine Base,
Harbor. In order to take part on the coming Formosa
and to be in a position inside the
Formosa Straits to
intercept Japanese reinforcements for the coming Philippine
Campaign, training and loading were completed four days
advance of schedule. Loaded 24 Mark 18
Mod 1 torpedoes
already prepared for the U.S.S. TAMBOR who had been delayed.
24 September 1944
1300 Departed for Formosa Strait via Midway, proceeding at
full power to this last fueling base.
27 September 1944
0700 Moored at Submarine Base, Midway, and received
usual good welcome and services. With fuel in
available corner, departed at noon for our patrol area.
Proceeding at two engine speed.
27 September 1944 - 5 October 1944:
(East Longitude Date)
Routine training enroute to station showed gratifying
results. Received information that
the TRIGGER -
SUNFISH pack were looking for a small Jap ship
last reported position plotted directly on our track.
We were apparently ahead of these boats which had left
Pearl a few hours ahead of us and had proceeded
Saipan, we felt we stood a good chance of finding him
6 October 1944:
Ran into threatening weather which soon developed into
a full-fledged typhoon. Continued on the surface still
in hope of intercepting the enemy, but
ourselves on the inside semi-circle, with seas and wind
which would prohibit any sort of attack if
located. The barometer dropped to 27.80,
broke over the raised periscope, and even had
waves on their backs. It was a sight such as none
us had witnessed before. Needless to say, our bridge
watch had been secured and the ship closed up, running
on the battery. It was frankly considered too late to
dive as we often hung at 60 degrees by
inclinometer in the control room. What the momentary
extra loss of stability on diving, especially if
ballast tanks flooded unevenly, would have
about is still a question in our minds.
7 October 1944:
Having worked through to the safe side and with slowly
moderating sea, proceeded toward Formosa Straits. Our
first fix showed us having been set 60 miles
direction opposite to that which we
pulling clear of the storm.
8 October - 9 October 1944:
As the sea permitted went to three-engine speed. Dived
for one plane which we are quite sure could flap
10 October 1944:
With the mountains of Formosa in view dead ahead from
noon on and the top of Yonakuni Shima rising on
starboard hand, went to four-engine speed so as to pass
into the Strait shortly after dark. About 2100
contact with and tracked a small craft which turned out
to be a patrol vessel when observed from 5,000 yards.
Put him astern and continued on past Kirun around the
northern tip of Formosa inside Kahei Sho and into our
11 October 1944;
ATTACK NO. 1
0400 When about four miles west of Puki Kaku
contact at 17,000 yards on a ship moving up the coast
from Pakusa Point. Tracked him at 14 knots making
at first suspicious of his character, but as the range
closed he was observed to be a large modern
freighter heavily loaded presenting a low silhouette.
Moved on to his track and dived for one of those never
failing crack-of-dawn attacks. Maneuvered for an
yard shot as he came by and fired three Mark 18 Mod. 1
bow torpedoes, spread to cover his length. The
two hit exactly as aimed sinking this overloaded ship
immediately. Surfaced as soon as the smoke had cleared
away to find no survivors and only wreckage and several
empty landing craft half swamped, drifting about in the
water. Proceeded at full power down the coast for
submerged patrol during the day well clear
opposition which would arrive shortly.
Pakusa Point where a north or south bound ship could be
spotted coming in either direction,
submerged attack if necessary, but preferably tracking
until dark as these shallow waters cramped any ordinary
evasion tactics. The west coast
of Formosa is
literally covered with airfields, and planes were
sight practically every periscope observation.
1000 A strong northerly wind sprang
up against the
prevailing current which quickly whipped the surface
into a sufficiently severe chop to make depth control
difficult. This same chop, however, was seen to stand
us in good stead for at noon the masts of another north
bound freighter were sighted down the coast. He
running inside the 10 fathom curve zigging frequently.
Though we could reach his track by moving in at
speed and have some battery left for
original plan of tracking till dark seemed more prudent
under the circumstances. There then
longest submerged tracking problem in which we
with our target 27 miles up the coast. This
surprising but with the enemy zigging frequently
bucking a heavy wind and sea, his speed made good was
little more than ours running on a straight course at
80 feet between observations. Our tracks converged and
he passed directly over us at sundown.
ATTACK NO. 2
At dark we surfaced 4,000 yards astern of him, passed
him up at the same range, avoided
a couple of
stationary patrols, moved on to his track, then turned
for a stern shot as he came by. The night was
and spumey permitting us to lie with our stern to him
at 500 yards as he bucked the heavy seas.
2100 With a salvo of three ready to fire
with a liberal
spread, fired a single Mark 18 Mod. 1 torpedo at
middle with practically zero gyro on a 75 port track.
Our experience of the morning was not a mistake.
were clicking and this one hit
with a terrific
explosion. Only the first few members of
control party to reach the bridge saw any of the ship
before it went down. We now experienced something new
in anti-submarine tactics in the nature of estimated 40
MM fire from the beach. It was directed straight
however, and we were quite content to let them believe
that our China based planes were aloft.
Proceeded down the coast avoiding the two stationary
patrols and encountering a third which
12 - 14 October 1944:
0100 Sighted a properly lighted hospital
ship on an
northerly course which we looked over
aboard. He appeared to be in every respect complying
with International Law.
0600 Commenced submerged patrol off Formosa Coast.
patrol boats and planes were sighted throughout
day. On surfacing proceeded to the northwest
focal point of the probable shipping routes from both
Takao and Kirun to Foochow. Foochow seemed the logical
destination for any Japanese shipping in the Formosa
ports which, forewarned, would be attempting to escape
from our carrier strike. It turned out to be a
point, but only for patrol craft. Much rainy, squally
weather permitted getting clear of them on the surface
after submerged approach, observation and evasion.
Conducted numerous searches along enemy
tracks until Formosa strike was completed. On
which lead up close to Kirun the fires set by our boys
were observed to be blazing furiously day and night.
16 - 17 October 1944:
Moved over to the China coast and conducted submerged
periscope patrol just south of Haitan Island.
shipping of a thousand tons or less can follow
dangerous channels behind this island group.
position appeared ideal to intercept any
shipping attempting to clear the
However, absolutely nothing was sighted, and after two
days in these treacherous waters we moved
center of the Strait.
18 - 19 October 1944:
Patrolled in Formosa Strait, encountering nothing but
patrol craft. We were greeted on surfacing by radar-
equipped planes who seemed to be assisted
search by the patrol which also possessed radar. As it
appeared to be more of a case of being hunted
hunting, we moved northeast to our original lucky spot
off Pakusa Point, then on around the northern tip
the island to patrol off the port of Kirun. Friendly
radar showed on our SJ to the east, probably one of the
TRIGGER - SILVERSIDES group. Other radar continued to
be so strong on our detector
on all the usual
frequencies that we stopped worrying about it except to
fill in the necessary log to help out in its
tabulation. Patrolling off
Kirun was almost
prohibitable due to the constantly changing weather and
persistant large swells. The strong currents made
inadvisable to go very far into the outer harbor
the actual presence of shipping
could not be
19 October 1944:
Made radar contact at 36,000 yards on an enemy
heading south instead of north as expected.
followed an approach which quickly developed into
trailing operation as our target, a Katori cruiser and
two destroyers, were making 19 knots. Their
zigs at least every three minutes permitted us to close
on the quarter where with a bit of luck or with after
torpedoes an attack would have been possible.
times in a row we guessed wrong as to the direction of
his next zig, and firing remained impossible as
slow Mark 18's just plain wouldn't reach him before he
would have been off on another leg.
As it was necessary to slow to twelve knots
releasing these torpedoes, and the cruiser would
opening the range during this slowing down period, it
was necessary to reach a position not more than
yards astern of the cruiser for an up-the-tail
Dawn was approaching and so was the Formosa Bank just
north of the Poscaderas, when we crawled
yards. That is as far as we got, however,
illuminated us. We went down before the bullets landed
and expected a severe drubbing from depth charges. We
were disappointed in the outcome and swore never to be
without steam torpedoes forward again.
The enemy evidently suspected other submarines and did
not release the escorts to work us over.
A air and
surface craft search started about noon, but we
well to the north of their probing. On surfacing
Hunt was still on and with a sick radar we went north
clear of the Strait for repairs and a little rest from
almost continuous operations.
21 October 1944:
Continued submerged patrol north of the Formosa Strait
then proceeded back to the China Coast off Turnabout
2100 Tracked and nearly fired on a
PC-DE type patrol
proceeding down the coast in dark stormy weather.
didn't like the look of the situation as
rolling nearly over our bridge and his erratic
made a surface attack precarious. When the range
2600 yards with angle on the bow about 30 d, as if by
mutual consent the enemy reversed course
tailed it. We did likewise probably as happy as he at
the outcome. Our evasion course headed us back toward
the Formosa coast so continued on for
patrol on the following day.
22 October 1944:
Continued on toward the coast commencing a submerged
patrol at about 1000. The usual numerous aircraft were
sighted during the day. Their quantity
indicating an influx of planes probably as replacements
for those destroyed during the Formosa raids and very
possibly also for support in the Philippines.
1800 Shortly after surfacing the
SJ radar became
temperamental and quit. Our
technician and officer commenced the usual
repairs. Headed north for a safer operating area until
the were completed, as this was no
place to be
operating without an SJ.
23 October 1944:
ATTACK NO. 3
0050 On the first trial of the revamped SJ
reported land at 10,00 yards where no land should be.
Commenced tracking, immediately discovering a small pip
moving out in our direction. Put him astern and
on the turns. He evidently lost his original contact
on us for he changed course and commenced a wide swing
about the convoy which was now also in
submariner's dream quickly developed as we were able to
assume the original position of this destroyer
ahead of the convoy while he
went on a 2-mile
inspection tour. The convoy was comprised
large tankers in column, a transport on the starboard
hand, a freighter on the port hand, flanked by DE's in
both beams and quarters. After zigging with the convoy
in position 3,000 yards ahead we dropped back between
the tankers and the freighter. On the
stopped and turned right for nearly straight bow shots
at the tankers as they came by, firing two torpedoes
under the stack and engine room space of the nearest
tanker, a single torpedo into the protruding stern of
the middle tanker and two torpedoes under the stack and
engine space of the far tanker. The minimum range was
300 yards and the maximum 800 yards. Torpedoes
exploding before the firing was completed and all hit
as aimed. It was a terrific sight
to see three
blazing, sinking tankers but there was only time
just a glance, as the freighter
was in position
crossing our stern. Completed the set-up and was about
to fire on this vessel when Leibold, my Boatswain's
Mate, whom I've used for an extra set of eyes on
patrols, properly diagnosed the maneuvers
starboard transport who was coming in like a destroyer
attempting to ram. We were boxed in by the
tankers, the transport was too close for us to dive, so
we had to cross his bow. It was really a
diller with the TANG barely getting on the inside
his turning circle and saving the stern with full left
rudder in the last seconds. The transport
firing with large and small caliber stuff so cleared
the bridge before realizing it was all above our heads.
A quick glance aft, however, showed the tables
again turned for the transport was forced to continue
her swing in an attempt to avoid colliding with
freighter which had also been coming in to ram.
freighter struck the transport's starboard
shortly after we commenced firing four torpedoes spread
along their double length. At a range of 400 yards the
crash coupled with the four torpedo explosions
terrific, sinking the freighter nose
instantly while the transport hung with a 30d up angle.
The destroyer was now coming in on
quarter at 1300 yards with DE's on our port bow
beam. We headed for the DE on our bow so as to get the
destroyer astern and gratefully watched the DE
away, he apparently having seen enough. Our destroyer
still hadn't lighted off another boiler and
possible to open the angle slowly, avoiding the
interested DE. When the radar range to
the DD was
4,500 yards he gave up the chase and returned to
scene of the transport. We moved back also as his bow
still showed on the radar and its pip was
When we were 6,000 yards off, however, another violent
explosion took place and the bow disappeared both from
sight and the radar screen. This explosion set off
gun duel amongst the destroyer and escort vessels who
fired at random apparently sometimes at each other and
sometimes just out into the night. Their confusion was
truly complete. It looked like a good place to be away
from so we cleared the area at full power until dawn.
Our attack log showed that only 10 minutes elapsed from
the time of firing our first torpedo until that final
explosion when the transport's bow went down.
0600 Dived north of the Strait for submerged patrol.
2000 Surfaced. Nothing but patrol boats were sighted
during the day, but at night a search similar to
one previously encountered indicated the possibility of
this being a trap. In any case there was little doubt
about the heat being on this area. Headed north where
deeper water would at least give us a better sense of
24 October 1944:
0600 Commenced submerged periscope patrol. On surfacing
dark headed for Turnabout Island feeling that the Japs
would sow scarcely run traffic other
than in the
shallow protected waters along the China Coast.
approaching the islands at a range of 35,ooo
other than land pips appeared on the radar screen until
at tracking ranges the SJ was absolutely saturated.
The Staff had been correct in their estimate of
situation that the Japanese would likely send
available ship in support of the Philippine Campaign.
The Leyte Campaign was in progress and the ships
this convoy as in the one on the 23rd were all heavily
loaded. The tankers all carried planes on deck,
even the bows and sterns of the transports were piled
high with apparent plane crates.
ATTACK NO. 4
The convoy was tracked on courses following the ragged
coast at 12 knots. The Japanese became
during our initial approach, two escorts commencing to
run on opposite course to the long column, firing busts
of 40mma and 5" salvos. As we continued to close
leading ships, the escort
illuminated the column with 36" or 40" searchlights,
using this to signal with. It gave us a perfect
of our first selected target, a three deck, two stack
transport; of the second target, a three
stacker; and of the third, a large modern tanker. With
ranges from 1400 yards on the first transport to
yards on the tanker, fired two Mk. 18 torpedoes each in
slow deliberate salvoes to pass under the middle
stack of the tanker. In spite of the apparent
warning and the sporadic shooting which was apparently
designed to scare the submarine, no evasive
were employed by any of the ships.
commenced hitting as we paralleled the convoy to search
our next two targets. Our love for
Mk. 18 Mod 1
torpedoes after the disappointing cruiser experience
was again restored as all torpedoes hit nicely.
passed the next ship, a medium freighter, abeam at 600
yards and then turned for a stern shot
tanker and transport astern of her. Fired
stern torpedo under the tankers stack and one at
foremast and one at the mainmast of the transport. The
ranges were between 600 and 700 yards. Things
anything but calm and peaceful now, for the escorts had
stopped their warning tactics and were directing good
salvoes at us and the blotches of smoke we left behind
on going to full power to clear the melee. Just after
firing at the transport, a full-fledged
charged under her stern and headed our way and exactly
what took place in the following seconds will never be
determined, but the tanker was hit nicely and blew up,
apparently a gasoline loaded job. At least one torpedo
was observed to hit the transport and an instant later
the destroyer blew up, either intercepting our
torpedo or possibly the 40mm fire from the two
bearing down on our beam. In any case, the result was
the same and only the transport remained afloat and she
We were as yet untouched, all gunfire either
cleared over our heads or being directed at the several
blurps of smoke we emitted when pleading
speed. When 10,000 yards from the transport we
all in the clear so stopped to look over the situation
and re-check our last two torpedoes which
loaded forward during our stern tube attack.
A half hour was spent with each torpedo, withdrawing it
from the tube, ventilating the battery and checking the
rudders and gyros. With everything
started cautiously back in to get our cripple. The two
DE's were patrolling on his seaward side, so made
wide sweep and came in very slow so as
not to be
detected even by sound. She was lower in the water but
not definitely sinking. Checking our speed by pit log
at 6 knots, fired our 23rd torpedo from 900
aimed just forward of her mainmast.
phosphorescent wake heading as aimed at our crippled
target, fired our 24th and last
torpedo at his
foremast. Rang up emergency speed as this last torpedo
broached and curved sharply to the left.
part of a fishtail maneuver in a futile attempt
clear the turning circle of this erratic circular run.
The torpedo was observed through about 180d of its turn
due to the phosphorescence of its wake.
abreast the after torpedo room with a violent explosion
about 20 seconds after firing. The tops were
off the only regular ballast tanks aft and the
three compartments flooded instantly. The Tang sank by
the stern much as you would drop a pendulum suspended
in a horizontal position. There was insufficient time
even to carry out the last order to close the hatch.
One consolation for those of us washed off into
water was the explosion of our
23rd torpedo and
observation of our last target settling by the stern.
Those who escaped in the morning, were greeted by the
transport's bow sticking straight out of the water
thousand yards or so away.
Normal for locality patrol.
(D) TIDAL INFORMATION
(E) NAVIGATIONAL AIDS
As listed in navigational aids.
(F) SHIP CONTACTS
(G) AIRCRAFT CONTACTS
(H) ATTACK DATA
See attached report forms. (not transcribed)
(R) MILES STEAMED - FUEL USED
Not available due to loss of records in TANG.
Days enroute to area
Days in area
Days enroute to base
(T) FACTORS OF ENDURANCE REMAINING
Provisions Personnel Factor
(U) COMMUNICATIONS, RADAR AND SONAR COUNTERMEASURES
Not available due to loss of records in TANG.
Report of the loss of the U.S.S. TANG (SS 306)
This report is compiled from my observation and
stories of the eight other survivors as related to me at the
first opportunity after capture.
The U.S.S. TANG took on board the twenty-four Mark 18
Mod 1 electric torpedoes prepared for the U.S.S. TAMBOR who
was being delayed. All torpedo personnel in the
attended electric torpedo school and it is assured
torpedoes were properly routined while on station. In fact,
the performance of the first twenty-three torpedoes in
running perfectly, with twenty-two hits, attests to this.
The last two torpedoes were loaded in tubes three and
four during the final stern tube attack.
clear of the enemy escorts opportunity was
spend an hour checking these torpedoes before closing
enemy to sink a cripple. They were partially withdrawn from
the tubes, batteries ventilated, gyro pots inspected
steering mechanism observed to be operating freely.
With the submarine speed checking at six knots and the
ship conned for zero gyro, the twenty-third
fired. When its phosphorescent wake was observed
for its point of aim on the stopped transport,
torpedo was fired from tube number four.
curved sharply to the left, broaching during the first part
of its turn and then porpoising during
Emergency speed was called for and answered immediately
firing, and a fishtail maneuver partially completed in
attempt to get clear of the torpedo's turning circle.
resulted only in the torpedo striking the stern abreast the
after torpedo room instead of amidships.
The explosion was very violent, whipping
breaking H.P. air lines, lifting deck plates, etc. Numerous
personnel as far forward as the control room received broken
limbs and other injuries. The immediate result to the
was to flood the after three compartments
number six and seven ballast tanks. No one
these compartments and even the forward engine room was half
flooded before the after door could be secured.
The ship, with no normal positive buoyancy aft and with
three after flooded compartments, went down instantly by the
stern. With personnel in the conning
tower and on the
bridge falling aft due to the angle, there was insufficient
time to carry out the order to close the hatch.
Personnel in the control room succeeded in closing the
conning tower lower hatch, but it had been jimmied in
explosion and leaked badly. They then leveled the boat
by flooding number two main ballast tank (opening the
manually) and proceeded to the forward torpedo room carrying
the injured in blankets.
When the survivors from the forward engine room
after battery compartments reached the mess room, the found
water already above the eye-port in the door to the control
room. On testing the bulkhead flappers in the ventilation
piping they found the water not yet at this height.
therefore, opened the door, letting the water race through,
then proceeded on to the torpedo room. This made a total of
about thirty men to reach an escape position.
During this time all secret
publications were destroyed first by burning in the control
room, and then in the forward battery compartment
control room flooded. This latter seems unfortunate since a
great deal of the smoke entered the forward torpedo room.
Escaping was delayed by the presence
patrols which ran close by dropping
charges. This is unfortunate for an electrical fire in
forward battery was becoming severe. Commencing
six o'clock, four parties left the ship,
but only with
difficulty as the pressure at one hundred and eighty
made numerous returns to the torpedo room
revive prostrate men.
At the time the last party escaped, the forward battery
fire had reached such intensity that paint on the
torpedo room after bulkhead was scorching and running down.
Considerable pressure had built up in the forward
making it difficult to secure the after torpedo room
sufficiently tight to prevent acrid smoke from seeping
the gasket. It was felt that this gasket blew out,
due to the pressure or an ensuing battery explosion,
that the remaining personnel were asphyxiated.
Of the thirteen men who escaped, five were
cling to the buoy until picked up. Three others reached the
surface, but were unable to hang on or breathe and floated
off and drowned. The other five were not seen after leaving
Of the nine officers and men on the bridge, three were
able to swim throughout the night and until picked up eight
hours later. One officer escaped from the flooded conning
tower and remained afloat until rescued with the aid of his
trousers converted to a life raft.
The Destroyer Escort which picked up all nine survivors
was one of the four which were rescuing Japanese troops and
personnel. When we realized that our clubbings and kickings
were being administered by the burned, mutilated survivors
of our own handiwork, we found we could take it with less