The USS Cobia was launched in November of 1943 by the Electric Boat Company out of Groton, Connecticut. She was first commissioned in March of 1944, sponsored by Mrs. C.W. Magruder, and commanded by Lieutenant Commander A.L. Becker. Cobia first reached Pearl Harbor by way of New London in June of 1944.
World War II
In June of 1944 Cobia was bound for the Bonin Islands on her first war patrol. In July of that same month she sank Japanese freighters, as well as three small armed ships during a running gun battle. One of these smaller ships managed to ram Cobia, however, she continued her mission, sinking a converted yacht weighing 500 tons in August. One survivor from the converted yacht was the Cobia’s first prisoner of war.
Her second war patrol was in the Luzon Straits, where she was under constant attack from Japanese aircraft. After a refitting in November of 1944, the submarine was cleared for her third war patrol where she sailed into the South China Sea, sinking the minelayer Yurishima in January of 1945 off the southeast coast of Malay. Her fourth war patrol in February involved engaging two sea trucks, one of which resisted with machine gun fire, killing a member of the crew and damaging Cobia’s radar equipment. The Cobia subsequently sunk both sea trucks.
Cobia was put on her fifth war patrol in May of 1945 out in the Gulf of Siam, there she was able to attack a cargo ship but was driven deep by depth charges coming off of a minesweeper. Consequently, Cobia was able to contact a tanker convoy and sink both a tanker and the landing craft, Hakusa. Her sixth and final patrol was in July of 1945, where she acted as a lifeguard during air strikes on Formosa, seeing the hostility through to the end.
In May of 1946, the USS Cobia was decommissioned and placed on reserve in New London. Re-commissioned in July of 1951, Cobia helped train reservists and students of the Submarine School at New London until she was placed in commission in reserve at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in October of 1953. After a final overhaul the submarine was towed back to new London, again placed out of commission, and in reserve in March of 1954. Four of her six war patrols were deemed successful. The submarine received four battle stars and was credited with sinking a total of 16,835 tons of shipping.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.