Diving the UB-88

Me at the conning tower (Photo Credit: Ben Lair)

The UB-88 is a Type UB III German submarine from World War I that was surrendered to the United States on 26 November 1918 in accordance with the Armistice agreement with Germany. It carried a crew of up to 3 officers and 31 men and was about 180 feet long. She went on “tour” down the east coast, up the Mississippi River and then through the Panama Canal to the West Coast. She ended up in San Pedro where all useful parts and salvage were stripped from her and then sank in target practice on January 3rd, 1921 about 7.5 miles south of the port in about 190 feet of water.

I was fortunate enough to dive the UB-88 on July 1st 2020 on the Sundiver out of Long Beach with Captain Kyaa Helle and Captain Ray Arntz who was one of the original team that found the UB-88 back in July 2003. More about that story is documented on the excellent website http://ub88.org.

We arrived on the site and dropped a shot line and prepared to jump. Conditions were typical Southern California — greenish water, hazy and full of “crap” at shallower depths, overcast sky and dark at the bottom.

The first thing I saw as I descended the line was a bunch of “white blobs” in the water column. As I got further down and level with them I realized they were the white metridiums on the “ghost nets” on the stern of the UB-88. The shot line was right on target.

We got a good 30 minutes on the wreck and made a couple of loops. Most of my photos weren’t very good due to the particulate matter in the water. Ben Lari managed to pull off some great pictures and put together a video at the end of this post.

It is pretty amazing how well the wreck is doing given that it has been down almost 100 years. The outer hull is definitely rusting away and you can see the inner pressure hull along with the four torpedo tubes in the bow and the one in the aft (on which the “ghost nets” are caught).

Here are a few pictures:

Me photographing the conning tower (Photo Credit: Ben Lair)
Stern torpedo tube
Outer hull and inner pressure hull
Torpedo tube in the bow (Photo Credit: Ben Lair)
Torpedo tube at the stern with “ghost nets” (Photo Credit: Ben Lair)
Me at the conning tower (Photo Credit: Ben Lair)

Ben Lair got some good video and put together this 3 minute video:

Video Credit: Ben Lair

So, what is next? This is maybe a clue:

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