Tag Archives: U-Boat

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

Nazi submarine found off Norway (U-486)




Ordered 5 Jun 1941
Laid down 8 May 1943 Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel (werk 321)
Launched 12 Feb 1944
Commissioned 22 Mar 1944 Oblt. Gerhard Meyer
22 Mar 1944 12 Apr 1945 Oblt.  Gerhard Meyer
Career 2 patrols
22 Mar 1944 31 Oct 1944   5. Flottille (training)
1 Nov 1944 12 Apr 1945   11. Flottille (active service)
Successes 2 ships sunk, total tonnage 17,651 GRT 1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,085 tons 1 warship a total loss, total tonnage 1,085 tons
Fate Sunk 12 April, 1945 in the North Sea north-west of Bergen, Norway, in position 60.44N, 04.39E by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Tapir. 48 dead (all hands lost).

Nazi submarine found off Norway

The wreck of a German World War II submarine that was sunk with 48 people on board has been found off Norway’s coast during work on an oil pipe, a maritime museum official said Monday.

The “U-486” was torpedoed and broken in two by a British submarine in April 1945 shortly after leaving the western Norwegian town of Bergen, according to Arild Maroey Hansen of the Bergen maritime museum.

There were no survivors.

Lying at a depth of some 250 metres (820 feet), the wreck was found when Norwegian oil company Statoil was scouting the area as a possible location to lay down an oil pipe.

“The submarine had a special coating on the hull. It was a synthetic rubber coating designed to significantly reduce its radar signal,” Maroey Hansen told Norwegian public radio NRK.

The “U-486” lies some two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the German “U-864” submarine, which was also sunk in 1945 with dozens of tonnes of mercury on board, a dangerous cargo which has caused politicians headaches for years.

They have been examining how to best limit the environmental risks posed by the mercury, hesitating between whether to lift the wreck — it is also broken in two parts — or to cover it in a hard sarcophagus.

General notes on U-486

24 Dec 1944. Sinking of SS Leopoldville On Christmas Eve 1944 U-486 torpedoed the SS Leopoldville in the English Channel 5 miles from the port of Cherbourg, France. The troopship was transporting 2235 American soldiers from regiments of the 66th Infantry Division. The ship finally sank 2 1/2 hours later.  Everything that could, went wrong: calls for help were mishandled, rescue craft were slow to the scene and the weather was unfavourable. 763 American soldiers died that night, making this the worst loss an American infantry division suffered from a U-boat attack during the war.

The Allied authorities were embarrassed by the incident and decided to bury the case. Many loved ones were told the men were missing in action although they were already dead by then, later to be classified as killed in action. The files were not opened to the public until 1996.

U-486 had not said her last word, as she sank the British frigates HMS Affleck and Capel only two days later in the same area, before returning on 15 Jan, 1945 to Bergen, Norway.

Source – Global Post

Source – U-Boat Net