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Old 10-26-2019, 12:55 PM   #1
Kapitan
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Default Kapitan explores his first USN Fleet boat: USS Cobia

Dam the torpedoes full speed ahead

For years I have been fascinated with ships and submarines, their stories and actions, and the men who went to sea in them.
I have travelled around the world to hunt down museum ships and submarines, and uncover the stories they have to tell.

Having travelled around Europe and exhausted nearly all the museums there its high time I made a start some where new, and where else to start than North America.

Recently I moved over to Canada and took a simpler job and a simpler life, but that doesnít mean my quest for museums was over far from it I have only just begun.
A little while back I did a test run to Selkirk Manitoba and managed to get some foot hold on the maritime museum there, but thatís not exactly what I came for.

I love ships of all types same with submarines, so my quest is not unique I have the same philosophy as I had in Europe, Iíve got to see them all, and well I have made a start.

I had been in contact with a gentleman called Tim for sometime, he lives in Wisconsin and he too has a passion for submarines, or should I say one particular submarine.
I had been around the world and been on many types of submarines, both in a professional role and as a tourist but one type of submarine eluded me, the World War Two American Fleet boat.

While my forte is Cold war you cannot ignore the importance World War Two played on submarine development, it was during this war the submarine did come of age.
And right there in the background masked by the carriers and battleships, was the fleet boat of the United States Navy.
It can be argued that these boats alone helped win the war in the Pacific and that they accomplished what Karl Doenitz had failed to do in the Atlantic, these boats would ultimately help bring Japan to her knees by destroying almost her entire merchant fleet, Unfortunately 52 boats would be lost in the process.

So, on an overcast day I decided to contact Tim and arrange to meet up with him and his submarine, from my home in Gladstone Manitoba to Manitowoc Wisconsin is 14 hours by car, is it worth the trip? This is by far the longest round trip I have ever done far more than Peenemunde and I have just Two days to complete it, Mission accepted.

Leaving home it takes 3 hours to the US Border at Pembina, there you wait in a nice que to get across, it doesnít take long to cross as I have a wavier in my passport, then comes the long drag down the Interstate, I decided to break up the trip and stop 2/3 of the way down to Manitowoc, so I stopped after 11 hours in Minneapolis St Paul.

In the morning I cracked out early in order to meet Tim at 1130 at the submarine, usually Iím pretty organised however some dipstick forgot the SD card for the camera so on a Sunday I had to go find a store that sold one.
it was after I found a SD Card that I came to the car park where she was located, I can honestly say she isnít what I was expecting.

Tim and myself finally found each other, and after the introductions and hand shakes we started to get down to business, now I was very eager to get started however we were flagged down by someone asking for the ferry (which was now closed for the season), then another person asking about the submarine and museum opening hours, all the while Iím trying to be polite and smile but in my head I am stood there saying hurry up people, I could hardly contain myself at what I was about to see.

We walked to the embankment and there she was all of her the first fleet boat I had ever clapped eyes on, the USS Cobia.
My word she was an amazing sight and for sure I knew I had made the right choice of going to see her.

Tim Abendroth works onboard as a volunteer tour guide, and was he going to show me around or what, this was a tour like no other this sure was a nook and cranny tour.

We started off on deck which is quite usual its where you normally start, that was until we climb over the barriers and Tim starts showing me under the deck plating, I didnít know but Cobia had been converted to carry Aviation gas for sea planes, and he duly showed me the hatch to no where, and yes unless you knew it was there you would never know.



Walking forward we again crossed the barriers, this time to go up onto the conning tower, first of all I didnít realise it was so big as it looked quite squat from land, but this structure certainly was well thought out, here we got to see the anti aircraft guns and Tim insisted I get a picture of me manning them (like Iím going to turn that down).



I have to say I had the deck & con for sure, it felt pleasant up there as it was a nice day, but when you think back and wonder how these men took this boat to sea, and how the weather and sea wasnít as tranquil as it is today, these men had to endure hardships and standing on the bridge looking up at an almost clear blue sky you cant help but feel thankful that the crew of this boat went out to ensure the freedom you and I enjoy today.
You also realise in that moment of thought of the men who went below, never to see this sight I and many others take for granted everyday again.



Forward of the conning tower is the anti aircraft guns, and walking through the hatch I did manage to smash my head into the shoulder grips, but that wont stop me exploring a submarine (id have to be dead, dying or mutilated to stop that happening), below the anti aircraft gun is the main deck gun, this is not the original one and is not on a wet mount its actually from a surface ship.




Now here came another unique thing, Tim walked toward the bow and I thought oh we will go down into the torpedo room now, nope not a chance instead we went down to see the forward diving planes and ballast tanks this meant going between the pressure hull and the casing.



It is a little tight down there but none the less it is actually very interesting because, you can see how it all worked mechanically, it also houses the high pressure air tanks, but you also get to see the structure all together.

The its time to go below, first stop the torpedo room, here 6 torpedo tubes were the main arm of the submarine. We all remember the issues in the first part of the war with the torpedoes, but Cobia came later so she probably experienced few duds.


With everything that was going on and while I was having an amazing day, it is often hard to imagine just what life would have been like on deployment, not only that many of the younger ones will find it hard to believe that this submarine was once fully operational and is credited with sinking shipping.

It does seem to me the younger generations *cough cough* the millennials just have no idea just what people their own age went through 75+ years ago, and the more I look around the world the more I come to realise that should such a thing happen again I think a lot of our youth certainly have lost their backbone.
Lets be truthful for a moment I have grown up with their being two genders, people back then did work together, and a common cause was binding for the nation, yet today if it all happened again I cant see how we could create the unity we once had.
Its true submariners are a breed apart and their bonds last long after they leave their boats for the last time, so to me there still is that unity and still is that camaraderie, something I feel the submarine service of all countries should be proud of.

Moving through Cobia you do find it hard to grasp just how 80 men lived and worked inside for a long period of time.
Having been on German U boats, and many types of submarine both as museums and ones that are active not to mention of course the modern nuclear boats you cannot begin to appreciate just how hard these guys had it unless you have seen what we have today.
Moving though the submarine from the torpedo room we ultimately pass by, the Captains cabin, officers and non commissioned officers quarters, and a small galley, it is quite plush for a submarine and quite large.
Below the floor however is a different story, its cramped and yes full of blocks for ballasting as the batteries have been removed, and yes I did go down this small hatch (Iím not that fat Iíve lost weight) to get a sense of just what it would be like below servicing the batteries and I can honestly say it doesnít seem like a nice job.



After passing through we come to the nerve centre the control room, here the boat was steered, dived and this is where the captain would give his orders.
This is the heart and Brain of the submarine this is one of the most critical parts of any submarine, and it is here that the modern submarine layout was tested out.




This in its time would have been a very crowded place as much as a third of the crew could be in here at any one time for various reasons, and above my head was the conning tower which also had people stationed inside.

The next compartment is definitely the most important, here is the galley and crew mess, and this is where you can make or break a crew.
The food can determine if you have a happy crew or a miserable one, and that is all on the chef.
but thereís something else, below the tables and through a tiny hatch is another former battery compartment which is being used as spares depot, and a lot of them are original too.




Moving aft we walk through the crew mess, you can appreciate there is not a lot of privacy on this boat, and if you work it out thereís also not enough beds for the entire crew.



Back aft we now come to the power train of the Cobia, now this is unusual because we are used to having one engine room with two diesel engines side by side, not here!
There are two diesel engine rooms something that I did not expect.
Also many believe including Wikipedia that there is 4 diesel engines powering the submarine, here is something that I did learn she actually has five engines, four which are marinized train V16 engines, which everyone gets too see but little do they know just below their feet is another engine a smaller one too.

I was actually impressed they could squeeze the engine below and between the other two above but, I did get another surprise, I was let down a hatch in the floor to go and see the engine!



Its dark, slightly damp and smells of diesel oil, no matter what you do thereís just something about bunker fuel that remains permanent, having been covered in it myself twice I know it takes some time to get out of your skin, well here it seems to never leave and thatís not a bad thing.
What is interesting about Cobia is that two of the four engines can be started up! I do have a video of this but unfortunately, I cannot share it. (Video is not my own, but is available on Facebook and the subsim Facebook group)

further aft is the electric motors and yes I got to go below deck to view them, they just look like massive white drums but here is the power that gets you from A to B while under water.

Walking through this tin can you can smell the odours and see just how tight and cramped this boat is, these men who served on Cobia were not unique there were many fleet boats that were just like them, but they are a unique breed.
These boats were responsible for destroying nearly all of Japans merchant fleet in the Pacific during the war and surprisingly these boats are well suited to the role in which they undertook.

The last compartment is much like the first it is the aft torpedo room, here the fleet boats really did have a sting in their tails, and a bigger sting than that of the German U boats, here four tubes facing aft game them some extra fire power and also it was a great idea for down the throat shots should an enemy ship be coming from behind.

Naturally my trip wouldnít be complete without hopping into a torpedo tube!


Reaching the upper deck for the last time on this trip I feel almost drained, It had been an exhilarating experience, and one I am grateful to have achieved, Tim and I had spent a good three hours on the submarine exploring every nook and cranny on her.

Tim is retired and is a tour guide on the submarine, I couldnít have asked for a better tour of my very first US Fleet boat it was a pleasure to meet Tim and the Cobia a submarine I can honestly say he seeís as his family.
Tim is a great tour guide and host it was great being able to meet his wife and dog molly, but also share dinner with them before I left, Iím grateful to Tim for reaching out over a year ago now enticing me to come to Wisconsin and see his pride and joy, and having now seen her I can say I can see why she gets so much love, she is in fantastic condition and her current crew keeps her in extremely good condition.

And so my time is up here but plans are a foot for another adventure that way sometime in the near future, but for now back to Canada and back to work.

All pictures of Cobia can be found in my Album the link to my Flickr is in my signature
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Old 10-26-2019, 01:13 PM   #2
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Nice tour, man! And nice shots, thanks!



And for my own part, I once again have learned that driving on such a submarine would not be the transportation of my choice, I sooner or later would freak out.
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Old 10-26-2019, 03:37 PM   #3
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Another detailed and classy story Blair
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:30 AM   #4
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Very nice report.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:55 AM   #5
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Bunks were neat ... Head to smelly feet

I bet snoring wasn't tolerated
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Old 10-27-2019, 09:28 AM   #6
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All I can say is wow.
As Jim and the others have already said, another first rate and quality report, Blair. A number of us don't get the chance or have the time to visit ships and Submarines as you do. Through your reports and narratives, It's the next best thing to being there.

As always, thanks for taking the time to post your excellent reports and pictures.

Well done Blair and thanks again.
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Old 10-27-2019, 10:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kapitan View Post

....Back aft we now come to the power train of the Cobia, now this is unusual because we are used to having one engine room with two diesel engines side by side, not here!
Used to one engine room? On German subs maybe

Great report, front page worthy! Were you able to go into the conning tower? Be sure to copy some of your pics to your Subsim album here, so when Flickr dies some time in the future they will still be available here.
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Old 10-27-2019, 10:51 AM   #8
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Thanks all for the feedback don't panic as Corporal Jones would say i have many more planned that's for sure

And yes neal kinda used to one main diesel engine room not two, even the more modern ones i have been on, but the fleet boats did a sterling job so we know it works well.

As for hosting pictures i have over 9000 images and that will grow i think the maximum is here isnt it?
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Old 10-27-2019, 12:56 PM   #9
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I would suggest hosting 50~100 here, just the images you use in your posts.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:18 PM   #10
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Sure il upload them when i get some time, i also emailed you a while back not sure you got it subsim@subsim.com ?
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Old 10-27-2019, 06:35 PM   #11
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Has the Cobia had any cuts into her exterior anywhere or is she another example of a complete WW2 fleet boat still in wartime trim?


Love the pics
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Old 10-27-2019, 06:43 PM   #12
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Default Well done!

Great visit and pix.

You were lucky to be with Tim. I went aboard the Pampanito, in SF. There you had no guide, just a little speaker to hold as you toured the boat. Each compartment triggered a different story on your handheld tour guide.

We could not go to the conning tower or bridge -- off limits.

So much better with a personal tour.

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Old 10-27-2019, 06:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falkirion View Post
Has the Cobia had any cuts into her exterior anywhere or is she another example of a complete WW2 fleet boat still in wartime trim?


Love the pics
Theres a few modifications that allow better access to the submarine both fore and aft, the main 3in deck gun and mount are not original but the rest of it is pretty much as is.
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Old 10-27-2019, 07:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Sure il upload them when i get some time, i also emailed you a while back not sure you got it subsim@subsim.com ?
Thanks, I'll go look for the email.


Were you able to go into the conning tower? See the TDC?
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Old 10-27-2019, 08:05 PM   #15
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Unfortunately not but i think Tim may have some pictures of it.
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