USS Cobia (SS 245) was launched on November 28, 1943. In June 1944, she began the first of six war patrols in which she sank thirteen Japanese vessels for a total of 20,000 tons of enemy shipping. By July 1944, Cobia had established herself in the annals of World War II sub history by attacking an enemy convoy bound for Japanese-held Iwo Jima.
Cobia sank two vessels, including a troop transport carrying a Japanese tank battalion of twenty-eight tanks. U.S. Marines considered this sinking critical to their success in capturing Iwo six months later. Cobia's most colorful battle took place in February 1945, when she engaged two armed Japanese sea trucks in a running gun duel. Cobia sank both of them, but not without the loss of Ralph Clark Huston Jr, a 20 mm gun loader and Cobia's only casualty of the war. Cobia was nearly lost in May 1945, during an eight-hour depth charging by the Japanese minesweeper Hatsutaka. The minesweeper attacked Cobia in 120 feet of water and blasted her over twenty feet into the muddy seafloor of the Gulf of Siam. Cobia escaped intact, but heavily damaged. Ironically, Cobia's fate became intertwined with two Manitowoc-built boats through this incident. Hatsutaka sank the Manitowoc-built submarine Lagarto the week before attacking Cobia and the enemy minesweeper was sunk less than a week after Cobia's attack by USS Hawkbill, another Manitowoc-built submarine.
Ever since World War II, Cobia's role has changed to keep pace with her various missions. By 1959, the U. S. Navy considered Cobia obsolete as a deployable warship and transferred her to the Milwaukee Naval Reserve Center. There she served as a training platform for the next eleven years. In 1970, the Navy decommissioned Cobia and she was towed to Manitowoc to serve as an international memorial to submariners. In 1986, Cobia was incorporated as a part of the Manitowoc Maritime Museum, declared a National Historic Landmark, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As the Manitowoc Maritime Museum changed its name to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Cobia has become one of the Museum's major exhibits, supporting tours and a variety of overnight programs. As a National Historic Landmark, Cobia has been restored to her original 1945 configuration. You can go aboard and tour her topside and inside. You'll see the torpedo rooms, wardroom, crew's quarters, engine rooms and much more. No movie can match the real thing, so don't miss Cobia when you visit the Museum!