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Submarine Learning Center Detachment San Diego
History of Naval Submarine Learning Center
Detachment San Diego

In the late 1960's, action was taken to fill the recognized need for training of Pacific Fleet submarine personnel in San Diego. By November 1968, the submarine training command in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, proposed the implementation of "Get Wet" Submarine Damage Control Training in the San Diego area in support of personnel attached to the 25 San Diego based Pacific Fleet Submarine Force units. A detachment in San Diego was established and the Officer in Charge and two other staff members arrived in July 1969. By October 1969, the trainer was completed and training commenced. As time passed, training in San Diego increased with the addition of the Mk 101 and Mk 113 Fire Control Systems and an Mk 2 Periscope system. By December 1974, the San Diego Submarine Training Center Pacific, Detachment San Diego was established through billet allocation, training equipment procurement and MILCON projects. Soon the Advanced Submarine Attack Trainer and the Multi-Class Ship Control Trainer were procured and installed. In December 1978, the training facility moved from temporary classrooms located throughout the base to a 35,000 square foot subsection of the building that it now occupies. On October 1, 1979 NAVSUBTRACENPACDET SAN DIEGO was changed to an echelon four command, Submarine Training Facility, San Diego, California under a Commanding Officer, reporting directly to the Chief of Naval Technical Training. In 1983, a 28,000 square foot addition to the facility was completed providing new classrooms, two CCS Mk 1 Attack Centers, the Submarine Piloting and Navigation Trainer, and the AN/WLR-1H Electronics Surveillance Measures Trainer.

In 1991, two extremely realistic, ultra modern Fire Fighting and Damage Control trainers were added, comprising another 25,000 square feet.

On October 1, 1996, the command once again became a detachment of the Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The detachment was the recipient of Chief of Naval Education and Training's 2001 Training Excellence Award.

Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane

Rear Admiral Richard H. O'Kane, a WWII Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Diver, New Hampshire on February 2, 1911.He graduated from the United States Naval Academy, and commissioned as Ensign in May 1934.

Following commissioning, he served on USS CHESTER and USS PRUITT. He attended Submarine School in New London, Connecticut, and was stationed on board the USS ARGONAUT. In April 1942, he reported as commissioning Executive Officer in USS WAHOO, serving under WWII submarine legend, Commander D.W. (MUSH) Morton. WAHOO had a patrolling career that began August 1942 and presumably ended on November 9, 1943.During this time she sank 27 Japanese ships, totaling 199,100 tons, quickly becoming one of the Submarine Force's most valuable units. Prior to the sinking of the USS WAHOO Commander O'Kane transferred and assumed command of USS TANG, October 15, 1943. After intensive training exercises in the San Diego area, USS TANG left for the Pacific and arrived in Pearl Harbor in January 1944. Commander O'Kane is accredited for saving the lives of numerous down Navy pilots, and for stalking enemy convoys off the Sea of Japan. With unparalleled ferocity he completed five war patrols sinking 31 ships, totaling 227,800 tons.On his last and final patrol the TANG fired twenty-four torpedoes in four attacks.Twenty-two found their mark sinking 13 enemy ships; one torpedo missed her target, and upon firing her last torpedo the USS TANG fell victim to its own power when her torpedo malfunctioned, circled back and hit the boat killing all but 9 of her 87-man crew.

Listed as missing in action Commander O'Kane and surviving crewmembers were rescued by a small Japanese destroyer and imprisoned first on Formosa and later in a prison camp near Tokyo where they were subjected to beatings and a starvation diet until the end of the war.

Following the war he continued to serve in the submarine force, eventually relieving as Commander, Submarine Division THIRTY-TWO in August 1949. He also served as Officer in Charge of the Naval Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, in 1952 and in command of USS SPERRY from 1953 to1954. Following that assignment, he reported as Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN.He retired on July 1, 1957 and was promoted to Rear Admiral on the basis of his combat awards.He died February 16, 1994 at the age 83. In addition to the Medal of Honor, the Admiral's decorations include the Navy Cross (three awards), the Silver Star (three awards), the Legion of Merit with Combat "V", the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation with three bronze stars, including numerous other medals and campaign ribbons. Rear Admiral O'Kane is survived by his wife, the former Ernestine Groves of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and two children, Marsha and James and their families.