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Scuttled in 200’ 20 miles off the shore of Grant Park June 1921

More detailed history; usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/06/26/uc-97-forg...place-lake-michigan/








ROV photo

UC-97 was a forgotten derelict moored on the Chicago River. Like the other five German submarines, UC-97 had been stripped of everything of conceivable value that could be used for study of German submarine technology. Engines, periscopes, pumps, etc. were scattered about various U.S. Navy commands, laboratories, design bureaus, and defense industries. Finally, in keeping with the Armistice stipulations, the UB-88 was sunk as a target on the West Coast, and three of the submarines were sunk as targets off the Virginia Capes as part of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell’s tests of sinking ships with aircraft (U-117 was quickly sunk by bombs from U.S. Navy flying boats, and U-140 and UB-148 were sunk by destroyer gunfire.) The U-111 sank on her own while under tow off Lynnhaven Inlet, was raised and then repaired enough to be towed to deep water off the Virginia Capes and scuttled. UC-97 was in no condition to go very far, so she was towed out into Lake Michigan to be used as a target on June 7, 1921 by the Navy reserve vessel USS Wilmette (IX-29.)

The Navy made a big production out of sinking the UC-97. The first shot from one of Wilmette’s four 4-inch guns was fired by Gunner’s Mate J. O. Sabin, who had been credited with firing the first U.S. Navy shot in the Atlantic during WWI. The last shot was fired by Gunner’s Mate A. H. Anderson, who had fired the first torpedo at a U-boat during the war. After being hit by 13 4-inch rounds of 18 fired, the UC-97 sank. The famous ship was then immediately forgotten, for decades. The amnesia was so complete, that researchers in the 1960’s looking for evidence of a German U-boat on the Great Lakes were initially met by total incredulity by the U.S. Navy, including our predecessor, the U.S. Navy Historical Center. Multiple attempts to find the UC-97 in the 1960’s and 1970’s failed, and the sub acquired a reputation as one of the most elusive shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. Not until 1992 was the sunken sub re-located by a commercial salvor who has continued to revisit and observe the wreck periodically. I had the opportunity to see this very unique, and largely forgotten, piece of U.S. naval history firsthand during a recent visit to the site by the salvor, A & T Recovery






UC-97 in Toronto, Canada

More info on boat; uboat.net/wwi/boats/?boat=UC+97

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