(Left) German U-boat UB88 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard shortly after crossing the Atlantic from Harwich, England in 1919. Photo from the Naval Historical Center. (Right) UB88 as she looked in 2004 after more than 80 years on the bottom of the Catalina Channel off of Long Beach, California. Photo by Kendall Raine.
Off Long Beach, California
Our team achieved a goal sought for many years; discovery of the last resting place of the only German U-boat on the West Coast of the United States, the UB88. The wreck was located after an exhaustive year-long search effort. A cursory assessment of the wreck was done using a tethered video camera and recording sonar. On August 27, 2003, scuba divers visited that resting place and brought back with them definitive photographic evidence of the identity of the submarine. The following pages are a historical and photographic record of the life, death and rediscovery of the UB88.
UB88 served ten months in the Imperial German Navy and sank 13 allied ships. After 20 months under special commission in the U. S. Navy, UB88 dove for the last time on January 3, 1921 under the guns of the USS Wickes. For 80 years, UB88 lay intact, upright and near her designed operating depth limit, undisturbed and undiscovered on the sandy bottom south of the Port of Long Beach, California. Despite knowledge of the UB88’s existence from Navy action and press reports, the location of the UB88 remained a topic of much debate within the small and furtive wreck diving community. Rumors surfaced periodically about the wreck having been found, or someone having coordinates for the sunken submarine. However, no proof of her discovery emerged until now.