A little more Chicago maritime history

Most of you know of the U-505, the captured German WWII U-Boat on display in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry. It’s a pretty fantastic display, and a real eye opener to go through.


But did you know that’s not the only Chicago area German U-Boat?

At the end of World War I, under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was prohibited from owning or operating any submarines. Their fleet of existing boats was either scuttled, scrapped, or turned over to the victorious powers.

One boat was the SM UC-97, a type UCIII minelaying U-Boat. Commissioned just before Armistice Day, she conducted no wartime patrols. Instead, she was turned over to the United States. She was used as an exhibition on the Great Lakes for Victory Bond tours, to raise money to pay down the US wartime debt.


After that, she was sunk in 1921 as a target for the training gunboat USS Wilmette. And to bring us full circle back to Spill’s post on the Chicago Maritime Museum, USS Wilmette started life as the steamer Eastland, who sank pier side with the loss of so much life.

SC-97 was sunk about 20 miles offshore from Highland Park, IL. Her exact location was unknown for many years, but she was rediscovered in 1992, and her location was published 2013.

3 thoughts on “A little more Chicago maritime history”

  1. U505. The only reason I would some day go to Chicago. Loved the book “Boarders Away!” which details the capture of this vessel.

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