Pearl Harbor, Enlisting and Joining the Crew of the USS Tang (SS-306)

Richard O'Kane

Deep Dives and Surface Patrols

First War Patrol of the USS Tang (SS-306)

Rescuing 22 Downed Aviators

Final Patrol of the USS Tang (SS-306)

Postwar Reunions and Meeting New Friends

Test Dive to 625 Feet

Liberty in Pearl Harbor


Calvin Barrick grew up on a farm. He had four brothers and one sister but two of his brothers have died. Barrick was the third in the line of children. Barrick was out on a drive with a friend when he heard on the radio about the attack on Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the service after he graduated from school in the spring of 1942. He and a friend decided that they wanted to get into the fight so they enlisted. He does not recall why he chose the Navy. After enlisting he was sent to Great Lakes for boot training along with the friend he had enlisted with. After boot training his friend was sent to pharmacy school and Barrick went to quartermaster school. Quartermaster school was at Newport, Rhode Island. When he got out he heard about the submarine service. It sounded interesting so he volunteered for it. He was sent to New London, Connecticut for submarine school. The physical tests to get in were pretty rigid and a lot of the sailors who applied did not pass them. The submarine service was strictly voluntary. They went through escape training in the tower at New London. The first time he used the Momsen lung it was scary but after that it was not bad. They would start at the bottom of the 50 foot deep tower and would follow a line up to the surface. After getting on a submarine and qualifying he got his dolphins. Barrick was assigned to the USS Tang (SS-306) as soon as he got out of submarine school. He was ordered to Mare Island, California where the Tang was being built. Barrick helped commission the Tang. The commissioning ceremony was a short one. Barrick was even aboard when the submarine was launched and slid down into the water for the first time. All of the men assigned to the ship were aboard. Barrick had not heard of O'Kane [Annotator's Note: later US Navy Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane] prior to going aboard the Tang. When Barrick went to report aboard the Tang she was the first submarine he had ever seen other than the boats they used as trainers at the submarine school. That is where he met most of the officers.


Calvin Barrick thinks that Dick O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane was the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306)] was very smart and was very capable but he did not like him very much. O'Kane would do and say things that made them remember that he was an officer and they were not. It is evident in O'Kane's book. He credits the enlisted men but there is definitely a different level there. He treated everybody squarely. O'Kane did not smoke but about 80 percent of the crew did. Barrick is surprised that O'Kane never tried to control the men's smoking. When they had been submerged for a while the air would get blue. If someone tried to light a cigarette they better get it lit before the sulphur burned off. He only controlled the smoking when it was for a safety reason. Barrick feels that O'Kane was a very square person and treated the men well. O'Kane was very self confident and, in some cases, he could be arrogant and some of the men were sensitive to it. When they began putting the Tang through her paces and on her shakedown cruise at Mare Island one of the men got drunk and told O'Kane off but Barrick does not know whatever became of it. Barrick never had any direct interaction with O'Kane but did not avoid him. Most of Barrick's work was in the conning tower where O'Kane was frequently. During battle stations Barrick was usually on a wheel. When O'Kane wrote his book the only people he mentioned often were the officers. He only mentioned the enlisted men occasionally. Barrick was in that conning tower during three war patrols but his name was not mentioned in O'Kane’s book except in the list of crewmen who served aboard the Tang at the beginning of the book.


[Annotator's Note: Calvin Barrick served in the US Navy aboard the submarine USS Tang (SS-306) during that vessel's first three war patrols.] During the shakedown cruise, O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane] took the boat down to 625 feet. The boat was only built to go down to 480 feet. The depth gauge on the wall went to 600 feet and the needle was pegged out. Barrick did not know any better because he had never been on a submarine before but some of the older guys got pretty nervous about it. That is a long way down. During that dive one of the gauges broke but it was nothing serious. Later on they used those deeper depths when they were out in the Pacific. Their shakedown cruise was a run down to San Diego and back. When they returned to Mare Island they left to go to the Pacific. When they stopped off at Pearl Harbor, Barrick could see the remains of the USS Arizona (BB-39). O'Kane made his men go see the wreck. Barrick was not nervous going out on his first war patrol except when they were being depth charged. Another time he got nervous was when the deep fryer in the galley caught fire and they were unable to turn the thing off for a while. They were in the war zone at the time. Barrick thinks they were around the Palau Islands. They were assigned life guard duty at Truk during their second patrol. Barrick occasionally had lookout duty but his primary job was in the conning tower either on a wheel or recording every speed and course change in the quartermasters log which was used to check their position at night. O'Kane did a lot of patrolling on the surface during the day and with his periscope sticking way up in the air. Some of the old timers thought he was being careless but the records show that O'Kane knew what he was doing. Barrick never got to see any of the ships they sunk. Most of the sinkings occurred at night and he never got to look through the periscope.


[Annotator's Note: Calvin Barrick served in the US Navy aboard the submarine USS Tang (SS-306) and was aboard during that vessel's first three war patrols.] On 16 February 1944, the USS Tang (SS-306) was depth charged for the first time. Being depth charged for the first time made Barrick wonder. Depth charges would shake the boat but not as severely as what is shown on TV with lights blinking on and off. Some of the charges got close and the explosions were very loud. None of the depth charges dropped on the Tang ever got close enough to cause any serious damage. When the skipper [Annotator's Note: then US Navy Lieutenant Commander, later Rear Admiral, Richard H. O'Kane] ordered the ship be rigged for silent running, the wheel would go from hydraulic steering to hand steering. Anything aboard ship that could be shut down without effecting the operation of the boat was shut off. Any noise could be picked up by the enemy's sound equipment. Following their first depth charge attack, the Tang sang her first ship. The crew was excited about this first sinking but Barrick does not recall how they celebrated it. Being in the conning tower, Barrick knew what was going on. If they were on the surface they could usually hear most of what was being said above them too. Another event that occurred during their first patrol was the sinking of a big Japanese ship that just disintegrated when they hit it. The blast was so fierce that it rocked the Tang. Barrick recalls the event but not any details about it. When the Tang dove deep they were usually trying to get below a temperature gradient. The differences in water temperature and density caused the sound waves produced by the enemy's sonar to bend, making the sub very difficult to find. It was protection. O'Kane used the deep depth a lot. The Tang was the first boat that was capable of doing that. Additionally, the Japanese had no idea they would go that deep. In combat, if they were close and the escorts appeared to be heading for them, they would fire their torpedoes then dive deep. When they were standing watch they stood four hours watches. When they were not on watch they played card games and slept. When the Tang sank the large auxiliary ship the explosion was so intense that it dislodged the seal on one of the forward torpedo tubes. They thought they got it fixed but when they later had to dive deep they ended up going much deeper than they expected. The water in the forward torpedo room was waist deep which made it necessary for the pumps to be used but every time they turned the pumps on the enemy destroyers on the surface would locate them. At the end of their first patrol they ended up putting in at Midway instead of Pearl Harbor. Barrick did not know what he was missing since he had never been out before but some of the older guys did.


[Annotator's Note: Calvin Barrick served in the US Navy aboard the submarine USS Tang (SS-306) and was aboard for that vessel's first three war patrols.] At the end of the second patrol they put in at Pearl Harbor. On their second patrol they picked up 22 downed aviators. It was crowded but they shared bunks and the airmen were not aboard very long. They had been assigned as plane guards near the end of their patrol. They had not encountered any enemy shipping so rescuing those airmen made that patrol successful. Barrick did not take part in pulling guys from the water as he was on the wheel or on the log. Barrick does not recall much about that second patrol. During the rescue of a few of the aviators, a Kingfisher [Annotator's Note: Vought OS2U Kingfisher observation float plane] float plane was damaged so to prevent the Japanese from salvaging it, O'Kane [Annotator's Note: later US Navy Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane] ordered the Tang's gunners to sink it with gunfire. Barrick did not have to share a bunk with any of the aviators. He was lucky. He slept in the crew's quarters right in the middle of the boat, above the battery compartment. Some of the rescued aviators stood watches but Barrick does not recall much of it. When they returned to Pearl Harbor at the end of their second patrol they got a reception like none they had received before. Most of the enlisted crew did not celebrate much during the reception. They just took their liberty and celebrated on the own. When they were at Pearl Harbor they stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. For fun they would go swimming or walk around and see the sights. They also did a little bit of drinking. While in Pearl Harbor, Barrick and his friend who he had enlisted with were able to get together and do their liberty together.


When Calvin Barrick was going to submarine school in New London he signed up for the Navy's V-12 program which was officer candidate training. He was approved at the time but was not called up. After returning to Midway after their third patrol, Mr. Frazee [Annotator's Note: US Navy Captain Murray B. Frazee] got word that Barrick may be called to go to that training and that is how he was transferred off the Tang [Annotator's Note: USS Tang (SS-306)]. Frazee transferred him off at Midway and told him that if he was not called up he could catch up with the Tang back at Pearl Harbor. He was not called so he rode another submarine, the Albacore [Annotator's Note: USS Albacore (SS-218)], back to Pearl Harbor. He arrived a day or two after the Tang had deployed on her fifth patrol. That is how close Barrick came to being back onboard. It was his lucky day. At the same time, Mr. Frazee was transferred off. He is the one who called Barrick in and told him what had happened to the Tang. Their third patrol was what O'Kane [Annotator's Note: then US Navy Lieutenant Commander, later Rear Admiral, Richard H. O'Kane was the captain of the USS Tang (SS-306)] referred to as an empire patrol. That was a patrol where they patrolled the waters off the Japanese Empire. On this patrol they were headed to the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. The crew was well informed of where they were going. The charts for their destinations were usually right next to Barrick's station so he knew where they were going. Only the best boats were sent that far. The Tang's third patrol was the highest scoring patrol of the war. After the war, the Tang was officially credited with sinking 10 Japanese ships during the third patrol. Two of those ships were hit at about the same time when O'Kane slipped up in the middle of the convoy. After hitting the two ships one of the enemy escorts lit the Tang up with a searchlight forcing O'Kane to take the boat very deep. After one of the attacks on a Japanese ship, the crew of the Tang picked up a Japanese sailor. They nicknamed him Firecracker. The ship they sunk seemed to be a new one and Barrick believes that Firecracker was rescued to help identify the ship and others later on. Barrick did not have any direct contact with him because he did not speak Japanese and Firecracker did not speak English. Barrick does not know how the crew came up with the nickname for the Japanese sailor they rescued. Barrick recalls listening to Tokyo Rose. During that patrol Tokyo Rose did not mention the Tang by name but did mention that there was an American submarine sinking ships in the East China Sea. When they were leaving after that patrol there were Japanese hunter killer groups trying to pen them in to sink them but Barrick did not know it at the time. When they got back to Midway, Barrick was transferred off the Tang by the executive officer, Murray Frazee. When Barrick finally made it back to Pearl Harbor Frazee was stationed in an office there and he told Barrick that the Tang had been lost.


Calvin Barrick was transferred to the USS Searaven (SS-196) which was an older submarine based out of Pearl Harbor. He spent the rest of the time going out testing experimental stuff like underwater telephone lines and acoustic homing torpedoes. They would go out and conduct tests during the day then they were back in Pearl Harbor at night. The torpedoes they used were horrible. Before they had gone out, the torpedoes had been even worse. They had some problems with them. Some would misfire or they would broach which would give them away. By the time Barrick got out there the torpedoes that were being shipped out were arriving at Pearl Harbor where they were reworked before being sent to a boat. It was frustrating having a perfectly lined up torpedo slam into the side of the target without detonating. When Barrick was first transferred off the Tang [Annotator's Note: USS Tang (SS-306)] he thought he was going to officer candidate school so he was not disappointed. It was decided that he would instead be assigned to a new construction boat in New London, Connecticut. He got back to the United States and got 30 day's leave. When he reported in, he was assigned to a small PC [Annotator's Note: patrol craft] boat which was used as a target for practicing subs. He was not happy about that. Fortunately, he got out of the service a few months later. Barrick was at Pearl Harbor when the war ended in Europe but cannot recall where he was when the Japanese surrendered. Barrick liked serving aboard the USS Tang (SS-306). After the war he learned that some of the men from the Tang had been rescued after being prisoners of war. After Barrick got out of the service he would go to the USS Searaven reunions which were always held with the Submarine Veterans of World War 2. They were able to keep up to date with everything. Clayton Decker [Annotator's Note: US Navy Motor Machinist's Mate (MoMM) 3rd Class Clayton Decker] has passed away. Barrick got to see Decker and DeSilva [Annotator's Note: US Navy Motor Machinist's Mate (MoMM) 2nd Class Jesse B. DaSilva] although he did not know DeSivla because he had reported aboard the Tang after Barrick was transferred off the boat. Decker and DeSilva told him how they got out of the boat. DeSilva invited Barrick to some of their reunions but they never had one. He has never spoken to Leibold [Annotator's Note: then US Navy Chief Boatswain's Mate, later Commander, William R. Leibold] and Caverly [Annotator's Note: later US Navy Chief Warrant Ofcier (CWO) Floyd Caverly] but would like to. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer and Barrick talk about some of the men who served aboard the USS Tang (SS-306).] After the war Barrick never spoke to O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane was the captain of the USS Tang (SS-306)] or Murray Frazee [Annotator's Note: US Navy Captain Murray B. Frazee]. Calvin Barrick is proud to have served aboard the USS Tang (SS-306).

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