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BW history major curates the life of a US Navy submarine

Ben Yanke '23 explores, explains and protects the rich history of a World War II-era submarine docked in Cleveland.

Ben Yanke on deck of the U.S.S. Cod checking out the muddy tracks of a seabird that visited the submarine.
Ben Yanke on the deck of the U.S.S. Cod checking out the muddy tracks of a seabird that visited the submarine.

What can you do with a degree in history?

Ben Yanke '23 transferred to Baldwin Wallace University to study public history with the goal of working at a war museum.

During his senior year, Yanke turned an internship with the U.S.S. Cod Submarine Memorial into a full-time job offer after graduation. The U.S.S. Cod is a WWII-era submarine and National Historic Landmark commissioned in 1943 and now docked on Lake Erie in Cleveland's North Coast Harbor.

Mission accomplished.

Preserving history

Ben Yanke '23

Yanke, who hails from Brunswick, Ohio, told Professor Indira Gesink that he's never had so much at a job before.

His official title is archivist and assistant curator, and the role draws on skills he gained at BW.

"The classes I took at Baldwin Wallace greatly assisted me in maintaining and adding on to the archive at the submarine," Yanke explains.

"I have also been participating in collecting Oral Histories with the curator and have been using my experience from BW to assist me with that, too."

Exploring the past 

The Cod's storied past includes battles during seven wartime patrols and the only international submarine-to-submarine rescue in history, according to the memorial's website. She served as a naval reserve training vessel for a time before beginning her time as a floating memorial in 1976.

The Cod website explains, "Cod is one of the finest restored submarines on display and is the only U.S. submarine that has not had stairways and doors cut into her pressure hull for public access. Visitors to this proud ship use the same vertical ladders and hatches that were used by her crew."

If you've never been, the U.S.S. Cod is open for self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week from April 1 to November 30 and most non-holidays in winter, weather and staff permitting. The site also hosts field trips.

A body harness allows curator Ben Yanke to safely work on the Cod’s periscope.
A body harness allows curator Ben Yanke to safely work on the Cod's periscope. Photo by Phil McCourt/USS Cod Facebook.

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