USS O’Kane (DDG 77) is named after the late Admiral Richard O'Kane. Richard H. O'Kane was born on February 2, 1911. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover and the University of New Hampshire before entering the United States Naval Academy in 1930. Upon graduation in 1934, O'Kane was commissioned as an Ensign and served on USS Chester and USS Pruitt before reporting for instruction in submarines at the Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut in January 1938. After completing his training, O'Kane served on the submarine USS Argonaut until 1942, when he reported for duty as Executive Officer of USS Wahoo. For outstanding service on Wahoo, O'Kane was awarded the Silver Star Medal with two Gold Stars, and a Letter of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy.
In August 1943, O'Kane returned to the Mare Island Navy Yard where he assumed command of the submarine USS Tang upon her commissioning on October 15, 1943. After undergoing intensive training exercises in the San Diego area, the USS Tang left for the Pacific, arriving in Pearl Harbor on January 8, 1944. Under Commander O'Kane, Tang went on five war patrols, sinking a total of 31 ships, totaling more than 227,000 tons, and damaging two other ships - a record unsurpassed by any American submarine.
During its fifth and final war patrol, which began on September 24 and ended on October 25, 1944, the USS Tang sank 13 enemy ships. In what was to be her final battle, the Tang encountered a heavily escorted enemy convoy. Engaged in a fierce surface battle, Commander O'Kane directed Tang to fire her last two torpedoes at a crippled transport ship. The first torpedo went straight and true and struck its target. The second torpedo was faulty and turned around almost immediately, heading directly for Tang. Ordering emergency speed, Tang tried to pull out of the torpedoes path, but it struck the submarine in the stern, thus causing a violent explosion.
O'Kane was on the bridge at the time and was instantly thrown into the water along with nine other men. Only thirty crew members survived the blast below decks. These men attempted to swim to the surface from the escape trunk in the forward torpedo room. By morning time, only O'Kane, three men from the bridge and five crew members from below decks had survived when the Japanese arrived. The survivors were picked up and taken to a Japanese Prisoner-of-War camp.
Commander O'Kane and the others from the USS Tang were imprisoned on Formosa. He was later transferred to a secret prison camp near Tokyo where he was not registered and was therefore listed as "missing in action" until the camp's liberation two weeks after V-J Day. During his nearly year-long imprisonment, he and the other prisoners survived on a diet of less than 300 calories a day, eating mostly rice or barley, without fruit, vegetables or protein. Upon his release, Commander O'Kane was suffering from scurvy and beriberi. He was evacuated by air to Pearl Harbor, and after a short hospitalization, was transferred to the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
After his recovery, O'Kane's commands included USS Pelias and USS Sperry, as well as the Submarine School in New London, Connecticut, Submarine Division THIRTY-TWO and Submarine Squadron SEVEN. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his exemplary service as commander on the USS Tang on March 27, 1947. Rear Admiral O'Kane's other military decorations include the Navy Cross with two Gold Stars, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V", the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal. He also wrote two books based on his experiences in World War II, “Clear the Bridge” and “Wahoo”.
Medal of Honor citation
Current USS O’Kane
USS O’Kane (DDG 77) is the twenty-seventh destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class and the sixteenth built by Bath Iron Works. She was laid down on May 8, 1997 at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, launched on March 28, 1998, christened on April 17, 1998 and commissioned October 23, 1999.
August 1, 2001 USS O'Kane departed homeport for its maiden western Pacific deployment, as part of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Battle Group.
The guided-missile destroyer returned to Pearl Harbor after supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2002. In July 2002 DDG 77 participated in a multi-national biennial exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) '02, off the waters of Hawaii. In August USS O'Kane returned to Pearl Harbor after a visit to Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii, where her crew took part in the 41st International Festival of the Pacific (IFOP).
In March 2003 Thirty U.S. Navy and coalition warships, including USS O'Kane, launched Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) during military operations to disarm Iraq. In July USS O'Kane returned to homeport after a seven-month deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In February 2005 USS O'Kane deployed with USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). In July the O'Kane returned to her Pearl Harbor homeport after the scheduled deployment which also included Maritime Security Operations (MSO) off the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean.
In July 2006 The guided-missile destroyer departed Pearl Harbor to participate in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2006. In September USS O'Kane participated in Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), as part of the John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group Three.
In January 2007 USS O'Kane departed Pearl Harbor for a scheduled deployment with the Stennis CSG. In February DDG 77 entered the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations (AoO) to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO). In August the guided-missile destroyer participated in exercise Valiant Shield 2007. In August USS O'Kane returned home after a seven-month deployment.
In April 2008 The O'Kane went on a surge deployment with the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group in the western Pacific. In June USS O'Kane returned to homeport after a seven-week underway period. In July the guided-missile destroyer participated in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2008.
In February 2009 USS O'Kane returned to Pearl Harbor homeport after a four-and-a-half month underway period which included ANNUALEX 20G and the defense of Iraqi oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. In September USS O'Kane departed homeport for a western Pacific deployment. In November the guided-missile destroyer participated in Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 21G. In December USS O'Kane returned to Naval Station Pearl Harbor after her deployment.
In July 2010 USS O'Kane departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a Middle East deployment as part of Commander, Task Force-Iraqi Maritime, supporting maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AoR).
In February 2011 The O'Kane returned home after her seven-month deployment. April 14, USS O'Kane, fired and guided an SM-3 Block IA missile that intercepted the intermediate-range ballistic missile, the 21st successful intercept, in 25 attempts, for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD). In November the participated in integrated training exercise "Koa Kai 12-1", off the coast of Hawaii.
March 23, 2012 USS O'Kane departed Pearl Harbor for a scheduled Middle East deployment with a primary focus on Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) operations. In November USS O'Kane returned to her homeport in Pearl Harbor after seven-and-a-half month deployment.