After three days waiting for the submarine CT1 Austin finally saw the USS COCHINO (SS 345) arrive at the port of Londonderry, Northern Ireland. With orders in hand, Austin promptly delivered them to LCDR Rafael C. Benitez, the Commanding Officer of the COCHINO.
Austin’s orders were no surprise to him, but they were huge to the skipper! The orders read in part, “that whenever USS COCHINO was on station at any one of the three points of interest in the Barents Sea LCDR Benitez was to take orders from CT1 Austin as to course, speed, disposition and technique. Furthermore, to carry out the purposes of the mission, COCHINO was to proceed forthwith to Portsmouth Royal Naval Shipyard where CT1 Austin would supervise the installation of certain special antennas and transmission lines through the pressure hull.”
According to Austin, “Benitez really blew a stack. His carryings-on brought the XO and chief of the boat (COB) running to the cabin seeking his murderer.” It was bad enough for the Skipper to relinquish orders to the submarine to an enlisted man, but to allow this same enlisted man to supervise drilling holes in pressure hull was way over the top! Immediately LCDR Benitez contacted CINCNELM and subsequent commands to complain that only Bureau of Ships (BUSHIP) can authorize changes relating to the pressure hull of a submarine. After intense conversations with the chain of command, LCDR Benitez returned to the submarine and told Austin, “Let’s go do it.” Apparently Austin received authorizations from BUSHIP for this mission back in London, and shortly thereafter the COCHINO got underway for Portsmouth. While in transit, LCDR Benitez passed on his woes to Austin.
CTC Harris Monroe “Red” Austin
The Austin Family