The US Navy’s next two Virginia-class attack submarine will be named Tang and Wahoo in honor of two storied World War II submarines, the US Navy Secretary announced.
USS Tang (SSN 805) will be the 32nd and USS Wahoo (SSN 806) the 33rd boat in their class. Both will be Block V submarines, featuring the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an 84-foot section that provides more than three times the missile strike capacity of the current Virginia-class submarines.
“The success in battle both previous namesakes endured will undoubtedly bring great pride to the future crews of USS Tang and USS Wahoo,” said Braithwaite. “Along with the previously named USS Barb (SSN 804), these boats will honor the strong traditions and heritage of the silent service.”
This will be the third time that the name Tang and Wahoo will be used for US Navy submarines.
USS Tang (SS-306) was a Balao-class submarine and the first US Navy ship to bear the name Tang, a surgeon fish popular in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. She was built and launched in 1943, and under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Richard H. O’Kane, she was credited with sinking five enemy ships during the boat’s first war patrol. In her five patrols, Tang is credited with sinking 31 ships, totaling 227,800 tons and damaging two for 4,100 tons. Tang received four battle stars and two Presidential Unit Citations for her service during WWII, and O’Kane received the Medal of Honor for Tang’s final, heroic actions.
A second USS Tang (SS-563), the first ship in the Navy’s Tang-class of Diesel submarines, was commissioned in October 1951. She was among the first post-WWII submarines designed under the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program (GUPPY). She went on to complete multiple patrols supporting the Vietnam War, and later became a training vessel in Groton, Connecticut, before decommissioning in February 1980. Tang earned four battle stars for service in Vietnamese waters.
USS Wahoo (SS-238) was a Gato-class submarine and the first US Navy ship to be named for the wahoo fish, a scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. Construction on the submarine started before the US entered WWII, and commissioned after the U.S. entered the war. On October 11, 1943, Wahoo, under the command of the renowned Lt. Cmdr. Dudley Walker “Mush” Morton, was sunk with all 79 hands onboard by air and surface attack as she was attempting to exit the Sea of Japan via La Perouse Strait. At the time of her loss, Wahoo was the most storied boat in the fleet. In her seven war patrols, she earned six battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. The boat would be credited with sinking 20 Japanese ships, 19 of them during her last five war patrols. Morton was later awarded the Navy Cross and the destroyer USS Morton (DD-948) was named in his honor.
The second USS Wahoo (SS-565), a Tang-class submarine, was commissioned on Memorial Day in 1952. After training exercises in the waters off the Hawaiian Islands, Wahoo embarked on tours of duty in the western Pacific as part of Seventh Fleet. She then completed two tours of duty in support of the Vietnam War and was decommissioned in June 1980. Wahoo was also recognized for her actions in Vietnamese waters.
Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. Attack submarines, for example, were once named for fish, then later for cities and states. However, Braithwaite supports naming future submarines after past vessels with historic naval legacies.
“Naming Virginia class submarines is a unique opportunity to reclaim submarine names that carry inspirational records of achievement,” Braithwaite added.