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Cochino

 

A trigger fish found in the Atlantic.

 

(SS-345: displacement 1,526; length 311'9"; beam 27'3"; draft 16'10'; speed 20 knots; complement 66; armament 2 5", 2 40 millimeter, 4 .50-caliber machine guns, 10 21" torpedo tubes; class Balao)

 

Cochino (SS-345) was laid down on 13 April 1944 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Company; launched 20 April 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Mortimer E. Serat, wife of the Assistant to the President of Electric Boat Co.; and commissioned at the Submarine Base, New London, Conn., on 25 August 1945, Commander William A. Stevenson in command.


During her shakedown out of New London, Cochino visited Newport, R.I. (12-15 September 1945), then sailed for the Canal Zone on 3 October. Reaching her destination on 9 October, the new fleet boat carried out training with the Operational Development Force, then visited Miami, Fla. (24-30 October) to observe Navy Day. Proceeding thence to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Cochino operated in those waters until 27 November, when she shaped a course back to New London.

Cochino sailed from New London on 8 January 1946 in company with Irex (SS-482), bound for Guantanamo Bay. Cochino provided services out of Naval Operating Base, Guantanamo, for much of January, clearing those waters on 25 January for her new home port of Key West, Florida, arriving there on 27 January, after which time she returned to Guantanamo Bay to resume providing services in that area (24 February-7 March). In-port periods at Key West followed (9 March-3 May, and 7-10 May), punctuated by a call at St. Petersburg, Fla. (4-6 May) before she returned to Cuban waters (12-16 May).  Then, following a visit to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (18-20 May), Cochino sailed to conduct simulated attacks upon ships of the 8th Fleet, proceeding thence to Key West upon conclusion of those evolutions.


Following a period of upkeep (24 May-16 August 1946), Cochino operated briefly out of Guantanamo Bay (18-24 August) before she returned to her home port. Then, sailing in company with Corporal (SS-346), the submarine visited Galveston, Tex. (2-7 September). Returning to Key West upon completion of that port call, Cochino returned to Guantanamo Bay for another stint of providing services for fleet units in those waters (6-10 October). The boat operated out of Key West for the remainder of the year, punctuating that time with visits to Havana, Cuba (18-21 October) and New Orleans (25-29 October), and providing services for the fleet out of Guantanamo Bay (1-6 December).


Cochino departed her home port on 3 March 1947, and visited St. Thomas (7-9 March) before sailing in company with Greenfish (SS-351) to operate north of Culebra, Puerto Rico. Following another in port period at Key West (17-29 March), the boat headed north for a period of repairs and alterations at the Philadelphia (Pa.) Naval Shipyard. While there, she suffered slight damage when undocking from the marine railway on 20 May. Shifting to the Naval Ammunition Depot at Ft. Mifflin upon completion of that yard period, she conducted deep diving tests on 21 June in the waters of the Baltimore Canyon at 38 08'N, 73 49'W, tended by the submarine rescue vessel Tringa (ASR-16), after which time she returned to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, remaining there until 3 July. Cochino then proceeded to Norfolk, Va. (6-12 July), reporting for duty to Commander, Aircraft, Atlantic Fleet, and then shifted to Annapolis, Md. (12-25 July) reporting for duty to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy upon arrival there. She then returned to her home port for upkeep (28 July-29 August), after which time she visited Havana (29 August-1 September). Returning to Key West on 1 October, she remained there for most of the rest of the month, heading out to sea on 11 October to ride out a storm, returning the following day.

After visiting Miami (25-28 October 1947), Cochino operated with the 2nd Task Fleet near Bermuda, through mid-November, after which time she returned to her homeport for upkeep through mid-January 1948. Work in the Key West operating area or upkeep in port involved the boat until 31 January, when she sailed for New Orleans, La., for Mardi Gras festivities (2-11 February). Returning thence to Key West and the local operating areas there, the fleet boat worked in those areas into the spring of 1948. Toward the end of that period, on 26 April 1948, while conducting a submerged exercise at a 60 foot depth, Cochino collided with the fleet tug Salinan (ATF-161). Attempts to go deep and swing ship proved unsuccessful, and the boat suffered damage to the periscope shears, both periscopes, and her radar antenna.

Cochino then underwent repairs and major renovations at her builders' yard beginning on 11 May 1948. Converted to a GUPPY/Snorkel boat at Groton, she emerged from the yard on 4 February 1949. Departing New London on 25 March, the newly modernized submarine visited Boston (26-27 March), then returned to New London (28 March-2 May), after which time she headed south to return to her home port, arriving at Key West on 8 May. She then again shaped course for New London, where she remained from 19 May to 16 July, then proceeded to Argentia, Newfoundland, where she arrived on 22 July, en route to the British Isles and her first deployment to European waters.

She reached Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on 29 July. She operated locally in those waters for a brief period, then put in to Londonderry (4-8 August) before visiting Portsmouth, England (8-12 August). She then put to sea for operations above the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea before turning for home in late August.


On 25 August 1949, however, Cochino ran into a violent polar storm off Norway. The huge waves slammed the submarines' snorkel so violently, and jolted the boat so severely, that the pounding caused an electrical fire and battery explosion, followed by the release of deadly hydrogen gas. Defying the most wretched weather conditions, men of Cochino and Tusk (SS-426) fought to save the submarine for 14 hours, performing acts of skillful seamanship and high courage in the storm-lashed, frozen seas. A second battery explosion on 26 August, however, made "Abandon Ship" the only possible order, and after the crew made a dangerous rope transfer to Tusk, the abandoned Cochino sank at 71°35' N., 23°35' E. Cochino's only fatality was a Bureau of Ships technician, Robert W. Philo, swept overboard by an icy wave. Tusk lost six of her own men by the same cause in the attempt to save Cochino.

Cochino was stricken from the List of Naval Vessels on 27 October 1949.

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Rewritten, Robert J. Cressman, 1 February 2007