This week it was reported that Russian military submarines are patrolling the coast of the Eastern United States in international waters. The incident has raised eyebrows, but most analysts cough it up to the Russian's flexing their muscles and checking U.S. surveillance capabilities.
This isn't the first nor the last time a foreign nation's sub has been near or in our waters.
A view of the German U-boat, UC-97, courtesy of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society.
Immediately following the end of World War I, the United States was still in the process of paying off its war debt. The United States Navy expressed an interest in acquiring several surrendered German submarines for display purposes in conjunction with a Victory Bond drive. Early in 1919, UC-97 and five other German U-boats were allotted to the United States by the British Government.
UC-97 was commissioned by the German Imperial Navy on September 3, 1918. The Chicago Tribune reported on August 17, 1919 that the sub was credited with sinking seven merchant ships, although other sources note that this class of submarine (UC III) conducted no war patrols and sank no ships. It was surrendered to the United States in November 1918.
Once the sub cleared the locks and entered the Great Lakes, it began a series of visits to American ports on Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Michigan. Though scheduled to visit Lake Superior ports as well, the voyage had to be cut short due to wear on the engines.
In August 1919, the U-boat started back down the coast of Lake Michigan toward Chicago, maknig a stop in Waukegan.
This series of photos was taken of the U-boat docked in the Waukegan Harbor, and being inspected by the local citizenry.
This photo of the submarine appears to have been taken from inside a truck or automobile.
On June 7, 1921, the U-boat was sunk as a target by the USS Wilmette on Lake Michigan 20 nautical miles off the coast of Highland Park.
Ironically, the USS Wilmette was originally built as the SS Eastland of the infamous Eastland Disaster. In 1915, the SS Eastland--a Great Lakes day passenger and transportation ship--turned over after pulling away from her berth on the Chicago River, drowning 812 people out of over 2,500 passengers - the greatest single loss of life in Great Lakes nautical history.
In 1917, the U.S. Navy purchased the salvaged hull, cut it down in height and rebuilt it into the training vessel USS Wilmette, which served until it was scrapped in 1948. Prior to using the UC-97 for target practice, she was stripped of all armaments, propulsion and navigational equipment.
The German U-boat's wreckage was located in 1992 by A&T Recovery, but its location has not been released to the public.