It was on or about August 1, 1949 and the COCHINO was finally ready!
After several setbacks in Portsmouth the antennas, cables and SIGINT equipment were installed and the COCHINO finally got underway for her historic mission. Escorting her were USS TUSK (SS 426), COCHINO’s sister ship and the USS TORO (SS 422) and USS CORSAIR (SS 435). Operating under strict radio silence, the four submarines pulled away from the pier and soon disappeared under the deep blue and cold sea.
According to Austin, “The COCHINO and USS TUSK (SS 426) were the first two “Guppy Snorkel” types being sent on cold water trials. The TORO and CORSAIR were to stay the areas of Jan Mayen and the Denmark Straits and rendezvous with COCHINO after our mission was completed. TUSK had a rendezvous scheduled with us in the Barents Sea (thank God!) prior to our heading for Spitzbergen [Norway]. These were but a few of LCDR Benitez’s duties:
- [Ice] Berg Count
- Testing of modified WWII German SONOR (two RCA techs on board
- Whale count
- Charting of inverted cold layers of water (under which a sub could be immune from enemy SONAR) (part of my orders Charting the depths at which NAA Fox broadcasts could be received (a) CW (b) RATT (my orders)
- And on top of this my Top Secret mission which tended to deep six some of the other mission due to changes of areas of operations. Oh, yeah; of course the testing of the snorkel-running under cold water conditions.”
Some of the equipment installed was adjacent to the manifold where the COB opens and closes various valves and trims on the boat. This close proximity allowed both the COB and Austin “to curse out at each other at least ten times per watch. The rest of the equipment was in the radio shack.” Two of the specialized “dog ear” antennas were mounted to the port and starboard sides of the tower. Austin and Schaeffer alternated watch-standing while on station. When Austin was not on watch, the skipper assigned him to No. 2 periscope, perhaps as a form of “punishment.”
Austin and Schaeffer hot sacked which both agreed was pretty awful. As an experiment the ship was divided into three time zones: Indian Oceans time, Hawaiian time, and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/Zulu Time). As each watch changed so did Austin and Schaeffer. Eventually both spooks would end up sleeping in every sack on the boat! Torpedoes were fully armed fore and aft and it gave both men a thrill sleeping on top of those monsters even though they knew it takes many turns of the screws to put the striker in place.
CTC Harris Monroe “Red” Austin
The Austin Family