USS Cochino SS-345 (1945-1949)
The USS Cochino was first launched in April of 1945, sponsored by Mrs. Mortimer E. Serat, who was also the wife of the Assistant to the President of the Electric Boat Company, the same ship builders that first laid her down. Cochino was first commissioned at the Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut in August of 1945 with Commander William A. Stevenson in command. Through till the end of November, Cochino visited Newport, Rhode Island, Miami, Florida, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped training exercises in the Operational Development Force before returning to New London.
Once again returning to Cuba, Cochino was responsible for services out of the Naval Operating Base in Guantanamo before being assigned to her new home port in Key West, Florida. Through most of 1946, Cochino made stops in the Keys, St. Petersburg, Guantanamo, and Havana, as well as New Orleans, Louisiana and St Thomas, Virgin Islands. She also sailed in company with Corporal (SS-346), visiting Galveston, Texas.
In October of 1947, after visiting Miami, Cochino worked with the 2nd Task Fleet near Bermuda through November of the same year, after which she returned to her home port for upkeep through mid-January 1948. In April of 1948, while conducting a submerged exercise, Cochino collided with the fleet tug, Salinan (ATF-161). The sub sustained damages to her periscope shears, both periscopes, and radar antenna, after which she underwent major repairs and renovations in May of 1948. Cochino’s repairs included converting her to a GUPPY/snorkel boat, stopping in New London and Boston before returning yet again to her home port in Key West. In July of that same year she was finally deployed on her first voyage into European waters where she operated locally off of Northern Ireland, as well as above the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea.
The Cochino ran into a violent polar storm off Norway in August of 1949. The waves of the storm struck the submarine so violently that the jolting and pounding caused an electrical fire and battery explosion, followed by the release of harmful hydrogen gas. Through all of this the men of Cochino and Tusk (SS-426) attempted to save the vessel despite the storming, frozen seas. A second battery explosion, however, called for the “Abandon Ship” order, causing the crew to make a dangerous rope transfer from Cochino to Tusk. The Cochino eventually sank; fatalities included the Bureau of Ships Technician, Robert W. Philo along with six of Tusk’s men who were attempting to save others. Cochino was stricken from the List of naval Vessels on October 27, 1949.
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.