The U.S.S. COD
Sunday, November 18, 2007
(Originally written on September 9, 2007)
by Tony Wootson
Ok, I figured I'd take a bit of a departure in subject matter from the types of articles I usually post here. This is a report on a tour that I took earlier on this summer of an old World War II Submarine.
(...See, this just goes to prove that I'm not just a "Flighty", Fantasy Sci-Fi Guy who keeps his head in the sky and stars, day dreaming all of his modeling time away. I also have a quite destructive, warmongery aspect to my modeling tastes!! - :~} ).
Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoyed going on the tour of the U.S.S. COD.
Earlier this summer I made a trip to Cleveland, Ohio for a Family Reunion that was taking place there. During the trip I had the opportunity to visit the U.S.S. COD, which is a World War II submarine, docked on Lake Erie.
Even though I unfortunately did not take my camera with me, I did grab a pamphlet on the sub, and accumulated (and retained) a surprising large amount of detailed information from the tour.
I ended up walking down to Lake Erie from the hotel where I was staying at. The walk ultimately ended up being a bit longer than I thought – (around 2 miles, each way).
The U.S.S. COD is located 5 minutes down from the Rock and Roll Museum, which is also situated on Lake Erie.
After paying the very reasonable $6.00 admission fee, I “walked the plank” up onto the sub. The first thing that struck me was the relative small size of the submarine. The COD is a "Gato" class WWII submarine, having a length of only 312 feet (and weighing 1,525 tons).
The second thing I noticed was a HUGE gun mounted on the main deck, just aft of the conning tower. This 5 inch, 25 caliber “wet gun” has a stainless steel liner inside the barrel, which helped the gun resist corrosion from sea water when the submarine was submerged.
The gun has two seats attached to it, one on either side. Both seats have functional wheels and levers, with one rotating the gun around 270 degrees, and the second pivoting the gun up and down.
The third thing I noticed was the lack of a “traditional” entry and exit into and out of the submarine. Because the COD had not been altered from her wartime configuration, it was necessary to enter and exit the sub through the original fore and aft hatchways via vertical ladders.
During operational times, these hatches were only used for emergencies, with the crew entering and exiting the submarine while the COD was submerged. (The hatch located in the conning tower was the one traditionally used to enter and exit the sub).
(U.S.S. COD – Cutaway, side view,
supplied by the Cleveland Coordination Committee for COD)
(Forward Torpedo Room)
Upon descending into the COD, I found myself in the forward torpedo room.
Six of the COD’s ten torpedo tubes are located at the front of this compartment, with a total of 16 torpedoes stored here. (Six torpedoes were stored in the tubes, with another ten used for reloading).
There were two different types of torpedoes on display here. The first was the Mk. 14, which is a 3,000 pound steam-driven torpedo. This was the primary anti-ship weapon used by U.S. submarines from 1940 up into the late 1970s.
The Mk. 14 burned a combination of water, alcohol and air to generate steam that created its propulsion. The Mk. 14 could travel up to 4,000 yards at speeds up to 53 mph. It contained 643 pounds of explosives.
This Mk. 14 was unfortunately plagued with problems during the first 2 years of the war, which sometimes prevented it from exploding.
The second torpedo displayed in the forward torpedo room was the Mk. 18. The Mk. 18 was similar to the Mk. 14. However, the Mk. 18 traveled at a slower speed of 30 mph. (The advantage the Mk. 18 had over the 14 was it did not leave the telltale exhaust trail that the Mk. 14 left).
I was struck by the lack of space and very “tight fit” this forward torpedo compartment had. (I’m not claustrophobic at all. However, the very close proximity of everything, along with the small space available quickly made me feel very closed in. And just think…I was the only one this room).
It was interesting to note that the working and living areas of the COD was located on just one level, (even though there were storage areas in several places located below the main deck of the submarine, along with an upper floor in the conning tower).
It was also interesting to note that many sleeping bunks were located in this room. They were positioned directly above and below the torpedoes.
There are a total of 15 bunks located in this room. In addition, there are another 15 bunks located in the aft torpedo room. (With space being a premium on the sub, sleeping bunks were often situated wherever they could be squeezed in).
Surprisingly, the two torpedo rooms were the preferred locations on the submarine to sleep. This was due to both the cooler temperatures along with the quietness of the rooms – that is, until a target was sighted.
When I left this room I entered the Officers' State & Ward Room and Forward Battery Room.
(Officers' State & Ward Room and Forward Battery Room)
The next room I entered contained the officers' sleeping area, shower, bathroom and pantry. This was considered “Officers' Country” and was where the COD’s officers slept, ate, hung out and held meetings.
Found directly below is the Forward Battery room, which is a rubber-lined compartment that stores 126 lead-acid electric storage batteries. (There is an additional After Battery Compartment, which houses the remaining 126 batteries).
Each battery cell measures 21.5 inches by 15 inches by 54 inches and weighs 1,650 pounds. The batteries are recharged by the submarine’s five diesel engines, (which also supply power to the COD’s four electric motors that drive the sub up to 24 mph while she is on the surface).
When submerged, the 252 batteries supply the COD with power, enabling it to travel at a maximum sustained speed of only 9 mph for up to 60 minutes. Due to this short duration, the typical speed of the COD when submerged is a lower 2 mph, which allows it to remain submerged for up to 48 hours.
When leaving this room I entered the Control Room.
As is obvious from its name, this is where the COD’s controls used to dive, surface and keep the sub level are located. One of the items found here are indicator lights, which indicate if valves and hatches are opened or closed when the COD submerges. In addition, hydraulic manifold levers, used to flood the COD’s ballast tanks with sea water to make the sub dive are located here, along with a bank of air valves used to force up to 3,000 psi of compressed air into the ballast tanks to surface the COD. There are also bow and stern control wheels, which control the angle of the COD’s descent and ascent when submerged.
The “Pump Room”, located directly below contains the two air compressors, pumps and air conditioning equipment.
Located directly above the Control Room is the Conning Tower.
The Conning Tower, which is a narrow, cylindrical chamber located directly above the Control Room is the COD’s attack center. It contains the search and attack periscopes, the main steering station, the firing buttons for the 10 torpedo tubes, the torpedo data computer, and the radar and sonar equipment. Up to 11 men occupy this room during an attack. In addition, the previously mentioned Conning Tower hatch is located here.
Located directly aft of the Control Room is the Galley and After Battery Compartment.
(Galley & After Battery Compartment)
The Galley & After Battery Compartment contains an all-electric galley where food is prepared for the entire crew. Found here is the mess area that includes 4 tables. These tables can accommodate 24 men, with 3 sittings necessary for each meal to feed the entire crew.
The area doubles as a movie theatre and recreation area for the enlisted men. In addition, it also serves as a berthing and “living” area, containing 36 bunks, 2 crew toilets, 2 showers, a washroom and laundry facilities.
Below deck is found the refrigerator compartment, which holds the frozen and perishable food, along with an ammunition locker, that doubles as a jail for Japanese prisoners rescued from sea. The second set of 126 battery cells is also located below deck.
Once I left this area I entered the Forward Engine Room
(Forward Engine Room)
Two of the four 1,600-hp, 16 cylinder diesel engines are located in this Forward Engine Room. The diesel engines run the four 1,100 kw DC generators, which power the COD’s twin propellers while the sub is on the surface. (When submerged, the 252 battery cells supply all power to the COD, including the props).
Two freshwater stills are located at the front of this compartment. They produce high quality fresh water from seawater that is used for the batteries, the COD’s showers and for drinking by the crew.
Located next is the After Engine Room
(After Engine Room)
The Aft Engine Room holds the second pair of diesel engines & electric generators. In addition, there is another entry and exit hatch located at the top of this room.
There is also a 500-hp auxiliary diesel generator located below deck that provides additional power, if needed.
When the COD dives, the temperature in this room can exceed 110 degrees F.
Upon leaving the After Engine Room I entered the Maneuvering Room.
The COD’s on-duty electricians work here, controlling the speed of the submarine. Levers located at the rear of this compartment can be used to switch individual generator output from running the motors to recharging the batteries.
The sub’s four large motors, located below this room are used to control the COD’s two propellers through gear reduction.
A lathe and an electrical workbench are also located in this room. They are used to make spare parts for the sub.
When exiting this room I entered the final compartment in the COD – the After Torpedo Room.
(After Torpedo Room)
This room contains the remaining four torpedo tubes, along with eight torpedoes. In addition, the remaining 15 bunks for the crew are located here.
At the front of torpedo tubes 8 and 10 are found a signal flare ejector, which works like a mini torpedo tube. It allows the crew to fire signal flares. Decoys are also fired from these signal flare ejectors, which are designed to confuse enemy sonar.
There is also a small engineering office located in this room.
The sub’s final hatch is also found in this room. It was through this entry hatch that I climbed out of the COD.
(Additional Statistics and Information)
Found below are some additional statistics and information on the COD, (that was listed in the pamphlet):
• The U.S.S. COD, (named after the fish), was launched on March 21, 1943.
• She was subsequently commissioned on June 21, 1943, patrolling the South Pacific waters.
• The COD had a cruising radius of 20,000 miles and a fuel capacity of 116,000 gallons.
• Her shortest patrol duration was 43 days, with the longest being 74 days.
• The COD made a total of seven successful patrols, before the war ended.
• The crew of the COD lived and worked in VERY cramped & stuffy conditions.
• The men who served on the COD (along with all of the other U.S. submarines) were all volunteers.
• To offset the difficult working and living conditions of the COD, her crew (along with all crews serving on U.S. submarines) received 50% more pay than their Naval counterparts.
• In addition, submarine crews enjoyed the best food in the military and received the most amount of shore leave.
• The size of the COD’s crew grew from 77 to 97 enlisted men and officers through her 7 patrols.
• The normal submerged depth of the sub was 300 feet, with it diving down to 450 feet in emergencies.
• Because she submerged only to avoid enemy detection, the COD and her sister submarines were designed for maximum performance on the surface.
• The COD sank the Japanese destroyer KARUKAYA, a LST, a mine sweeper, along with several cargo ships and troop transports.
• This submarine participated in the war’s only sub-to-sub rescue, when it came to the aid of a Dutch Submarine, the O-19 that was stranded on Ladd Reef deep in enemy waters.
• In 1951, she was recommissioned to help train NATO anti-submarine forces.
• In 1959 the COD was towed to Cleveland to be used as a training vessel.
• In 1971, she was stricken and headed for the scrap yard, until the Cleveland Coordination Committee for COD, Inc., campaigned to save her as a memorial.
• In January of 1976 the Navy turned the COD over to her civilian handlers, and in 1986 she was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
I really enjoyed my visit to the COD. I had never seen (up close-n-personal) a submarine, much less been inside one. Because of this, this experience was a Blast!
There was a surprisingly LARGE amount of information that I learned about both the COD, along with the other Gato class U.S. WW II submarines.
In addition, there was a surprising large amount of authentic items set up in the COD, which gave the visit a real realistic, "old-time" feel. (There was even some old 1940's music playing in the background).
For more information on the COD, you can visit her on the web at:
Or, the next time you are in the Cleveland area, drop by for a personal tour.
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Copyright © 2010 by Anthony I. Wootson. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.