The USS Cod in Action Photo by US Navy
When I was in high school in the 1970s, our class took a trip to see the USS Cod (SS-224), a submarine which is docked on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, between Burke Lakefront Airport and the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame . I was hesitant to go inside the sub for a two reasons: one, I was claustrophobic and I was terrified of going down into a closed in area, and two, like all the girls in my class, I was wearing my school uniform, and girls just didn’t climb up and down ladders in a skirt, especially with boys/men around. (At least they didn’t in those days.)
You may ask how a submarine managed to find a home on the shores of Lake Erie, not a place one would normally think to find submarines. A brief history lesson will provide the answer.
According to the The USS Cod website, the sub was named after the (cod) fish. It is a World War II era GATO class fleet submarine and is a 312-ft, (95-m) 1,525-ton vessel. The USS Cod was first launched on March 21, 1943 and placed in commission on June 21, 1943, under the command of CDR James C. Dempsey, USN.
The USS Cod faced several battles. In one battle in 1944, under Dempsey’s command, the USS Cod destroyed the Japanese destroyer Karukaya plus other ships in that same convoy. Afterwards, the Cod had to stay submerged for 12 hours as it moved away from the attack area, finally surfacing 25 miles away from the area and into a heavy night thunderstorm.
The USS Cod has a very full history of service to the United States during and after World War II, which can be found on the USS Cod’s web site.
The USS Cod was decommissioned in 1954, and in 1959 she was towed to Cleveland to serve as a naval reserve training vessel, and was also opened for school field trips. Eventually the USS Cod was no longer needed as a training ship, and it was taken off the register of Navy ships in 1971. Later, a group of Clevelanders created the Cleveland Coordinating Committee to Save Cod, Inc., and their intent was to preserve The USS Cod as a memorial to be maintained on Cleveland’s lakefront. The group was given guardianship of the submarine by the Navy in 1976. In 1986, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the USS Cod a National Historic Landmark.
Also according to the USS Cod’s web site:
Today, Cod is one of the finest restored submarines on display and is the only U.S. submarine that has not had stairways and doors cut into her pressure hull for public access. Visitors to this proud ship use the same vertical ladders and hatches that were used by her crew. Cleveland can claim partial credit as Cod's birthplace, since the submarine's five massive diesel engines were built by General Motors' Cleveland Diesel plant on Cleveland's west side…Cod is now docked in Lake Erie at Cleveland, Ohio and is maintained and operated as a memorial to the more than 3900 submariners who lost their lives during the 100 year history of the United States Navy Submarine Force.
The USS Cod’s web site provides a virtual tour which allows for 360 degree views of various locations on the submarine. (That is good news for claustrophobics!) But if you want to visit it in person, it is open from May 1 through the end of September (check the web site for hours of operation).
By the way, the USS Cod is reported to be haunted. It has been included in the Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours. Maybe there is another reason I didn’t want to go in there…
Clevelanders should be proud to serve as the home for the USS Cod, and also be thankful for its service to the country.
Update June 11, 2009 - New Video on The USS Cod
Further reference and reading
The USS Cod (SS-224) Web Site
USS Cod, Historic Naval Ships Association has some nice pictures.
Wikipedia entry for USS Cod
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