Daily Archives: May 20, 2013

WWI German submarine has an underwater Lake Michigan grave (Video Clip)

Click on picture for Video clip

A view of the German U-boat, UC-97

It is no secret that one of the major attractions at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is a World War II German submarine.

What you may not know is that Chicago also has a World War I German submarine but it happens to be resting in a place where very few people can see it.

We are turning the clock back to 1919 which was an incredible year in Chicago’s history.

There were race riots that took lives and others died when a hydrogen blimp crashed in the loop.  There was a transit strike, political scandal, the Black Sox lost the series and the City of Chicago became host to a German submarine that has disappeared, but never left.

It was something of a trophy from the Great War.  The German mine-laying sub U-C 97 was brought to the states in the summer of 1919.  It toured some of the Great Lakes making stops in Racine, Milwaukee and its final destination Chicago.  Along the way people could see, board, touch, perhaps curse this modern machine of war.

“The U-Boat was on tour.  It was kind of a post-war, ‘we won’ tour, and so people got to go on to it and see it, and then as a condition of the armistice, it had to be sunk,” Pritzker Military Library CEO Ken Clarke said.

Indeed, the order was to sink the UC-97 in deep water.  In June of 1921, the sub was towed 20 to 30 miles off of Highland Park.  The USS Wilmette was brought within rang, and fired her four inch guns.

“My understanding is they fired about 15 shots and they hit her about the water line and she went down pretty quick.  She nose down and down she went,” well-known maritime searcher Taras Lyssenko said.

And out there she rests – on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

“You know where the submarine is.  I can take you right to the submarine and put you in the hatch if you want to go,” Lyssenko said.

How about the aft hatch?  It’s there  In 300 feet of water.  Sleeping with the fishes.  Here’s a hole from one of the Willmette’s shells.

Cold, fresh water has kept the sub in pretty good shape as the years have passed.  Lyssenko and colleagues spent four years searching for it, and found it back in the 1990s.

In the years since, he’s recovered numerous World War II fighter planes from the Lake – now restored and displayed, but Lyssenko’s continuing dream is to do the same with the sub.  But raising, restoring, and finding a home for it would cost, he says, upwards of 50 million dollars.

“That’s huge, but the value to this city and state and country is far, multiplier.  It’s an exponential multiplier of the value,” Lyssenko said.

“If I was a betting person, it’s going to take somebody with a very particular specific interest and desire to see this piece of history come alive again,” Clarke said.

And here’s one more piece of history.  The ship that sunk the UC-97, The USS Wilmette, had different name and purpose a few years earlier.  It was the Steamship Eastland that in 1915 turned onto its side while docked in the Chicago River.  Over 800 lives were lost in one of the worst maritime disasters ever.

The Eastland, later the Wilmette, was cut up for scrap after World War II.  The UC-97 sits at the bottom, this appetizing, unseen pearl of history.

Pearls are expensive, and raising this one, while doable, will most definitely require “digging deep” in many respects.

Source – ABC Local

South Africa – Submarine open days turn ugly over delays

        SAS Charlotte Maxeke
Tempers frayed and tensions rose as hundreds of people who had queued for hours to see the SA Navy’s attack submarine in Port Elizabeth harbour were turned away yesterday.

A few hotheads became aggressive after the long wait.

The SAS Charlotte Maxeke docked on Friday and was berthed near the port’s naval base, the SAS Donkin, where it was to be open for public viewing between 9am and 3pm on Saturday and yesterday.

But the submarine was relocated to another berth on Saturday, causing a three-hour delay. This led to a lot of sightseers being turned away on both days.

Lieutenant Gert van Staaden, of the Port Elizabeth naval cadet base, said port control had ordered the relocation of the submarine because another ship was due to dock near the naval base.

“Moving the sub is not a simple task and takes time,” he said.

In addition, a pontoon, which keeps the vessel from colliding with the side of the quay, had to be put in place at the new berth.

“The submarine was moved at 10am and was open to the public again at 1pm,” said Van Staaden.

“A decision was taken to issue tickets to people, some of whom had been waiting for many hours.

“There were about 100 [people] left at the end of the day and they were given tickets and instructed to return early on Sunday,” he said.

The tours finished at 7pm on Saturday.

But frustrations in the queues arose again yesterday, when scores of ticket holders, some of whom were said to have brought others with them, arrived later than requested and demanded to be taken to the front of the growing queue.

Harbour Master Rajesh Dana said the relocation was in the interests of public safety because another vessel had docked nearby, causing “heavy truck movement” .

“We were also completely overwhelmed by the public interest. Adding to the logistical challenges was that only 10 visitors could go on board at a time.

“To avoid people standing for hours and not getting on board we closed the gates early.”

Dana said improved public access would be introduced as soon as possible.

Source – Times Live