USS Cod Marks 75 Years
Seventy-five years ago this summer, the USS Cod, a new submarine in the GATO class, received her commission and eventually launched her first war-time patrol, embarking from Australia in October, 1943. The new sub, designed to patrol continent to continent, executed 7 patrols in all, mostly in the South China Sea and around the Philippine islands. While the Cod was built in Groton, CT, Cleveland can claim partial credit as Cod's birthplace, since the submarine's five diesel engines were built by General Motors' Cleveland Diesel plant on the city’s west side.
These days, the USS COD Submarine Memorial is a National Historic Landmark docked in Cleveland, walking distance to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center and the International Women’s Air & Space Museum. “It’s a Martha Stewart boat--prim, proper and period correct,” said museum guide Dave Krejci. “It represented a quantum leap in technology.”
The Cod sank 19 warships, mostly Japanese, plus 2 Thai ships and another 26 junks carrying enemy supplies. The Cod also performed the only international submarine-to-submarine rescue in history. On July 8, 1945 Cod arrived at Ladd Reef to aid the Dutch Submarine O-19, hard aground on a coral outcropping. After futile attempts to pull O-19 free and both captains agreed there was no hope to free the sub, 56 Dutch sailors came aboard the Cod and the O-19 was destroyed with scuttling charges, torpedoes and 16 rounds from the Cod's 5-inch deck gun. The Cod was home to 153 men for the two and a half-day run to the Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines.
First patrol carried 77 men, while by the seventh (and final) wartime patrol, the crew had ballooned to 97 to handle additional duties created by the conflict's needs. Other than the Cod’s incredible performance and surviving two years of war-time patrols, the craft’s most notable fact was cramped living conditions.
The Cod measures 312 feet, bow to stern. The beam is 27 feet at the widest point. The escape hatches require a maximum 54-inch waistline to successfully fit through. The vertical ladders and hatches of the original design remain, the Cod being the only surviving WWII sub with the pressure hull intact.
Control Room is the heart of operations, where controlling depth while cruising, submerging and surfacing takes place. The sub could safely dive to 300 feet. Yeoman’s Shack, a secretarial office about the size of a phone booth, is equipped with a manual typewriter. In the final week of a cruise, the yeoman typed a 100-page document detailing the cruise. Enlisted men’s sleeping quarters had up to 30 men sleeping around the clock, sometimes creating hot-bunking situations. Bunks (or “racks”) in demand shared space with torpedos as these munitions resided on the quietest and coolest deck.
At the Crew’s Mess, 24 enlisted men ate at one time. Officers shared the same high-quality, best-in-navy food as the enlistees, though with separate dining quarters. When the men tired of steak and lobster and lasagne, they were introduced to pizza, a rarity to farm-boy recruits in 1943. They ate off fine china and the biggest treat was ice cream. Additional perks for submariners included 50% more hazard pay and double the standard shore leave.
Patrol length averaged two months, with 2½ months the longest. The Cod executed its 7 war-time patrols from Commissioning Day until V-J Day on August 14, 1945.
Additional information on the Cod is at www.usscod.org .
Retired corporate sales & marketing guy in the tourism businesses. Long time free-lance sports writer.