USS O'Kane (DDG77)

by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua E. Walters, Defense Media Activity
05 September 2018 "A tradition of honor" is not just a motto for the crew aboard USS O'Kane (DDG 77), it's something to live up to and a tribute to the ship's namesake.

Rear Adm. Richard H. O'Kane, born Feb. 2, 1911, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1934. In 1938, he reported to the Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, and began his career as a submariner. O'Kane went on to become the executive officer of USS Wahoo (SS 238) in 1942, under the command of Cmdr. Dudley W. Morton. While patrolling the Pacific during World War II, the two men revamped submarine tactics, creating something never seen before.

"Mush Morton and Dick O'Kane revitalized submarine warfare against surface units and entirely changed the culture of their time, from more of a cautious and conservative to bold, daring and decisive," said Cmdr. Jason Tumlinson, O'Kane's commanding officer.

After his tour with Wahoo, O'Kane became the commanding officer of USS Tang (SS 306) in late 1943. Under O'Kane's leadership, Tang conducted five patrols, sinking a total of 31 ships and damaging two others. On its last patrol alone, Tang sank 13 enemy vessels. However, after it fired its last torpedo, the bomb turned around and hit the submarine itself. O'Kane and eight other crew members survived, but were later captured by Japanese. He remained a prisoner of war in a camp near Tokyo until he was liberated two weeks after V-J Day in September 1945.

In honor of O'Kane's courageous and bold leadership, the Navy named the 27th guided-missile destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class after him. The ship was commissioned Oct. 23, 1999 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which would become its home port. O'Kane was built to provide support for anti-submarine, anti-surface, anti-air and ballistic missile defense.

"It's kind of cool seeing O'Kane is able to do all of these things," said Gunners Mate 1st Class Tanner Kuenzig. "When the time comes to do a specific one, we definitely focus on that, that role we're going to be playing, but none of the others lack. We can always change and shift modes at a moment's notice and be able to perform any other mission."

Editor's Note: Read more about USS O'Kane here. Find more about Rear Adm. Richard H. O'Kane here.
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