On May 5, the UB-88, accompanied by the U. S. C. G. Tuscarora as tender, sailed from New York for Savannah, Ga. Speed for the cruise was ten and a half knots. On May 7, we entered the Savannah River, but did not go into the city that night, finding it necessary to moor to a lumber dock a short distance down the river from Savannah. It was here that we were first introduced to the southern mosquito. The Tuscarora came to our rescue with netting and from that time until we sailed from Galveston, Texas, on July 30, to Colon, C. Z., we were obliged to use this form of protection. Early the following morning we steamed up the river and moored to the Municipal Dock. The problem of showing visitors through the boat was one that had to be worked out. We did not know just how anxious the people were to see the vessel, or how large the crowds would be. We were soon to be informed. The mayor of the city had been notified several days ahead of our intended visit and had been requested to give all publicity to the event. The result of his publicity was evident. The office forces in the buildings along the water front, all left their books and crowded to the windows, the dock employees, negroes handling cotton, stevedores unloading ships ship builders, everyone, quit work and looked at us as we slowly moved up the river. Steamers, dredges and factories all gave the three blast salute. No sooner had we moored than thousands flocked to the dock to make a more complete examination of the vessel. Brows were placed fore and aft. Police officers were stationed at each brow to maintain order and to keep the crowds in line. One member of the crew was placed in each compartment to explain the different parts of the vessel to the visitors and to prevent parts of the vessel being carried away as souvenirs. Visitors were allowed everywhere except in the vicinity of the switch boards. As a master of safety to them and to the boat this part of the submarine was roped off. As the people would pass into each compartment the man stationed therein would point out the objects of particular interest and explain their uses. He would also answer any questions which were given him. Then by calling attention to something interesting in the next compartment the crowds were kept moving. The system worked admirably. It was found by actual count that an average of five thousand people a day could be shown through the boat in this way. The visitors after leaving the forward torpedo room were shown into the chief petty officers' quarters, then the officers' room, then to the central operating room, the pump room, the after battery room, the engine room and then through the engine room hatch to the deck where if they so desired, they could climb into the conning tower and look through the periscope.
On May 11, we sailed from Savannah for Jacksonville, Fla., arriving the following day. The cruise up the St. John's River was without incident. The crowds continued to come aboard at about the same rate as in Savannah. After our previous experience in handling the visitors there was less confusion. Every one commented on the reception they had received and the thorough manner in which the boat had been explained to them.
Before starting on the cruise from New York, we had been warned that souvenir hunters would try to carry away parts of the equipment. In order to frustrate any attempt of the visitors to steal articles for souvenirs, the men in each compartment were especially instructed to watch everyone carefully and to report any attempt of theft to the officer on duty who had orders to turn over the offender to the civil authorities. Despite the fact that we took all the precautions possible and even went so far as to have placards posted in all the rooms requesting visitors to refrain from taking or touching any of the equipment, a few small articles began to disappear. The thefts were almost wholly confined to the larger cities. In small cities it was very rare that any articles were found missing.
On May 14, we sailed for Miami, Fla., arrived there on the morning of the 16th. The mayor, city council and the chamber of commerce met the vessels as they entered the channel which leads through the keys to the city. An enormous crowd was present to welcome the UB-88.
The UB-88 and tender arrived in Key West on May 18, and moored just outside the navy yard. Our greatest number of visitors in this port came from the naval population. The majority of the inhabitants of leisure in this city take their siesta during the hours we were open to visitors.
The commandant of the eighth naval district did everything to make our stay in this port a pleasant one. The U. S. C. G. Tuscarora had been having boiler trouble, so it was decided to leave her in Key West for repairs and take another tender from there or else make the next two ports alone. The commandant did not care to have us undergo this unnecessary hardship, so he detailed a mine sweeper for our use on the trip to Tampa and Pensacola.
With our new tender we sailed for Tampa on May 20, arriving on May 21, left there May 23, arrived Pensacola May 25.
On account of the number of people to be shown through the vessel, the visiting hours had to be changed. We had previously been keeping the vessel open from nine in the morning until seven at night. this was changed from the above to eight in the morning to eight at night. In several ports visited, people were found who had come from ports we had already visited but who did not get a chance to see the vessel in their own cities. This led us to believe that our stops were not of sufficient duration, or that visiting hours did not coincide with the hours of leisure of the people. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays were especially "good" days. In some cases the waiting line was half a mile long, the people standing two and three abreast. The patience shown in the presence of an almost intolerable heat may be a judge of the popularity of the UB-88 on this cruise.
Our short trip of eighty-three miles from Pensacola to Mobile was completed in about eight hours. In running past the entrance to Mobile Bay the thoughts of all naturally went back to the day over fifty years ago when Admiral Farragut carried out and up held the best traditions of the service and made more traditions to be followed by his successors in the navy.
UB-88 remained in Mobile for four days. The Tuscarora rejoined us here and on May 21 we sailed for New Orleans.
The vessels arrived off the South Channel Buoy about two o'clock in the morning. The pilot standing by to receive vessels did not know of our intended arrival, and informed us he could not imagine what kind of a craft we were sailing. He had thought that a vessel was foundering and had rushed the pilot boat along side to give assistance. His surprise was great when he learned that he was piloting a German submarine, something he said, he never expected to do. Having previously informed the commandant of the district that we would arrive that morning, a berth was arranged for us. Soon after we were moored the visitors started to come aboard. The crowds continued as before. A pilot was arranged for here, to make the entire Mississippi River trip as far as St. Louis and return.
In every port visited the newspaper reporters were usually the first people allowed aboard. The history of the boat while she was in the hands of the Germans, and photographs of the vessel taken in previous ports were given the reporters. An interview regarding the cruise, past and future, was also given. Working in this way with the newspaper men, a great deal of publicity was given the vessel. This brought us many visitors, and as this was the object of the cruise our ends were attained.
We sailed from New Orleans in the early morning of July 7, for Baton Rouge a distance of one hundred and twenty-one miles. For the first time we were privileged to see the Mississippi River levees. While on the low decks of the submarine or even on the bridge, it is quite impossible to see any of the landscape on account of the river being so much higher than the surrounding country. The continual building up of the levees has raised the entire river to a great height and as years go by and the river continues its deposits, this process of building higher and higher will probably continue. Behind the levee here and there can be seen the tops of houses or just the top of a church spire or the topmost branches of trees. On the levee the cattle graze and negro children by the thousands, with little or no clothing, play during the hot days unmindful of mosquitoes or the torrid sun. They waved to us a greeting as we passed, then scampered down the other side to call the rest of the family.
It was after dark when the two vessels arrived in Baton Rouge. Next morning we went alongside the dock and the routine of showing visitors through the vessel began again.
On June 9 we unmoored and sailed up the river for Natchez, arriving on June 10.
While cruising from port to port on the Mississippi, the knowledge of the pilot was a matter of great concern. All pilots will naturally tell a commanding officer that they are thoroughly familiar with the waters in which they work and of course they generally are. It was extremely dubious, however, whether one man could "know" the entire Mississippi River to such a degree of thoroughness that he felt no worry in piloting a vessel its entire length. To carry such a great amount of knowledge in his mind and keep up with the ever changing channel was, I believe, the work of a superman. Captain J____W____, the pilot of the UB-88, was such a person. At only one place did we touch bottom and of that place he had warned us long before we ever reached it. We slid over, however, and as we glided again into deep water, he remarked that we would not be bothered with that place coming down as the channel, or crossing as he called it, in about two weeks would he farther up the river and there would he plenty of water. As usual he was right.
We arrived in Natchez on June 10 and left on the 12th The routine inspection of the boat by the populace continued.
From Natchez we went to Vicksburg; Lake Providence, La; Greenville, Miss.; Helena, Ark.; and Memphis, Tenn. It was found upon arrival at Memphis that the water in the river was falling so rapidly (a foot a day), that further progress was out of the question. Having received permission to return to New Orleans we started back down the river, leaving Memphis, June 26. We stopped at Greenville, Miss., on the 27th and 28th and on the morning of the 29th continued our journey south, arriving in New Orleans, on July 1.
On the trip down the river a decided knock developed in the port tail shaft. This was due to the after strut bearings being worn away by the sand and grit of the river. It was so bad by the time the vessel reached New Orleans that docking was necessary. As the only dock in New Orleans, the floating dock, at the Navy Yard, was in use, it was necessary to wait two weeks before it became available. The UB-88 went into dock there on July 14. Upon examination it was found necessary to renew both strut bearings. These jobs were completed on July 22 and the vessel was undocked the same day. While in New Orleans the U. S. C. G. Tuscarora was detached from the command and the U. S. S. Bittern was ordered as tender. On July 23 we sailed for Galveston, Tex., arriving there on the 24th, about eleven P.M. The vessels remained in Galveston for three days, and on the morning of July 27, sailed up the Ship Channel to Houston, Tex., arriving the same day. It was here the Chamber of Commerce presented the commanding officer with a miniature bale of cotton to be taken via the Panama Canal to Los Angeles. Cal., and there to be presented to Miss Mary Pickford. The presentation was carried out with all due ceremony. Moving pictures were taken, still pictures were snapped. Upon the arrival of the boat in Los Angeles harbor, a similar scene was enacted. These combined depicted the reception and delivery of the first bale of cotton to be taken from the east to the west via the Panama Canal.
On July 30 we sailed from Houston bound for Colon, C. Z. Bad weather was experienced during the entire last half of the trip. From the indications of the barometer and the shifting of the wind we were on the outskirts of a West Indian storm. Two hundred miles out of Colon a lubricating pipe to number one cylinder, starboard engine carried away, putting that engine out of commission. It was impossible to repair this at sea. In order to save time a tow line was taken from the U. S. S. Bittern and on the following day we entered Colon harbor. The two vessels moored at the Submarine Base, Coco Solo. Repairs were made and stores taken aboard. Saturday and Sunday the boat was open for inspection by the people of Cristobal and Colon. On August 12 we sailed through the Panama Canal for Balboa, arriving there the same day. We remained in Balboa for two days to give the canal, army and naval officials and civilian employees an opportunity to visit the submarine. We also had the pleasure of entertaining the ex-president of Peru, the vice-president of Panama and many Panamanian officials.
We sailed from Balboa on August 14, arriving in Corinto, Nicaragua, on the 17th. Upon receipt of news that several cases of yellow fever had been reported from the interior we sailed the following morning for Acapulco, Mex., arriving there on the 21st. Just before entering the harbor it was found that the starboard engine had become "salted." After mooring along side the tender a thorough examination was made of the lubricating system. It was found that all the piston heads had been completely chocked up with salt. Salt water had found its way, in some unknown manner, into the lubricating oil. From first observation it was thought that the entire engine would have to be broken down to remove the salt from the piston heads. This would have taken at least a month. So that plan was abandoned. Different experiments were tried on this salt and carbon crustation with the idea of finding some agent to dissolve it. Gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, hot water and steam were tried. Steam seemed to answer our purpose to the best advantage, so we adopted this method for the solution of the trouble. The delivery side of the lubricating system was broken down between the pump and the piston heads. Steam at 100 pounds pressure was connected up to the discharge side of the heads and allowed to remain until the salt was dissolved. In the case of three of the cylinders the steam broke through almost immediately, showing that the crustations in these pistons were not bad. In the other three, however, it was necessary to keep the pressure on for several hours before there was any sign of the steam coming through. Finally a small water leak was described in each supply pipe and then the passage became large until finally the steam rushed through, carrying with it large amounts of salt and carbon. An almost fatal condition was easily remedied by a few simple experiments, and we were again ready to sail. On the 23d we "upped anchor" and proceeded to sea, bound for Magdalena Bay. Here another delay was encountered by the U. S. S. Bittern losing a large percentage of her fresh water so that it was necessary to put into Manzanillo, on August 23, to replenish her tanks. We sailed the same day for San Diego, Cal., arriving on the 29th. The weather during the entire trip until the morning of our arrival, was intensely foggy. Upon our arrival in San Diego it was learned that we had been reported missing by the newspapers. This caused a great deal of concern outside of naval circles. The delay in making repairs and the rewatering of the U. S. S. Bittern caused us to arrive in San Diego three days behind schedule. This fact furnished the papers a subject for sensationalism of which they readily took advantage.
From San Diego we sailed north making stops at San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco, Mare Island Navy Yard, Astoria, Ore., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., Tacoma, Bremerton Navy Yard, Bellingham and then back to San Pedro, stopping for a few days in San Francisco.
The trip on the west coast was without incident except for the difficulties encountered in navigation, due to heavy fogs.
Upon the arrival of the UB-88 in San Pedro on November 7, our cruise was over. The work which had been assigned to the officers and crew of this little vessel had been completed. A successful cruise it was. During the trip from Harwich, England, to the final arrival in San Pedro, we had "steamed" 15,361 miles, and during that cruise we had shown the vessel to over 400,000 enthusiastic visitors.