Descend through the hatch of the U.S.S. Cod, and you travel back in time.
Here, in the forward torpedo room of the submarine, it’s 1945: from the music on the speakers to the 3,000-pound torpedoes sandwiched between vinyl bunk beds.
“We want everything to look like it’s lived in,” said Cod operations assistant Dave Krejci.
That includes big tins of canned vegetables, a record player, linen napkins, black-and-white photos of sweethearts, U.S. Navy pea coats and neatly folded pajamas on the bunk of Capt. Edwin Westbrook, the last active skipper on the submarine.
The United States built 270 submarines like Cod, which, yes, is named for the fish. Its engines were built in Cleveland, and much of the steel in the hull is from Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh. It was commissioned 75 years ago, on June 21, 1943.
The submarine set sail from Australia, covering more than 88,000 miles during her seven runs. She fired 122 torpedoes, with 39 hits and sank 12 ships. The sub’s conning tower, where the periscope is located, is painted with Japanese flags representing its kills – and a cocktail glass representing the rescue of the Dutch submarine O-19.
About 90 men were aboard. One man, Andrew Johnson, was lost, washed overboard by a wave on the deck.
In 1959, Cod came to Cleveland, replacing another submarine on the lakefront. It was used for training exercises until the 1970s.
Now it’s one of 15 remaining submarines from the American World War II fleet. It’s the most seaworthy, Krejci said.
You still have to climb through hatches to go from one room to another, as you marvel at the tight quarters, where men would spend 45 to 75 days in a row.
There’s laundry hanging in the engine room, where motor machinist mates, or “motor macs,” kept everything running. There’s a photo of the chef, who with his crew cooked around the clock for crews who ate and slept in shifts. “It was the busiest room on the sub,” Krejci said.
The busiest spot on the sub now mine be the 5-inch gun on the deck.
“To all the kids,” said shipkeeper Jerry Rychlik, “it’s like a magnet.”
Summer 2018 on the Cod
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors & veterans, $7 children ages 5-16. Children 4 and younger and active-duty military are free.
June 21: 75th anniversary. Festivities TBD
July 7: Dutch Friendship Day
July 28: Subvet and Cod crew picnic
Aug. 4: Veterans Family Fair and Picnic
Aug. 31: Cod crew picnic