December Monthly Gathering – Why is there a German U-Boat at the Bottom of Lake Michigan?

Until the weather becomes more predictably amenable to meeting in person, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. Attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be sent to those who are pre-registered, about an hour before the presentation. The number of attendees may be limited, so please pre-register early. 

I suspect that some of you may think I’m either mistakenly referring to the U-505 submarine on display at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, a relic of World War II, or the recent totally fake news report of another Nazi submarine discovered in Lake Ontario. Answer: No and hell no(!), respectively.

This vessel, the one located in the depths of Lake Michigan, approximately 20 to 30 miles offshore of Highland Park, Illinois, is World War I’s UC-97. Nearly forgotten since it disappeared beneath the waves for the last time 100 years ago, UC-97 was not only the first submarine to reach the Great Lakes, it is also the ONLY vessel EVER sunk by naval gunfire in Lake Michigan. 

There has been an ongoing effort to raise the UC-97 since its rediscovery, which has only led to frustration, due in no small part to incredible levels of red tape. Which brings us to the question of just how and why does the Naval History and Heritage Command stand in the way of any attempts to salvage her? Why, according to some, has this branch of the U.S. Navy, whose mission is to make naval history come alive and present it to the American people, attempted to obstruct others from doing what they are paid by the tax payers to facilitate?

There’s lots more to this incredible story that will leave you gasping for air as we take a deep dive into this account of war, politics, Lake Michigan exploration, and history.

Leading the discussion will be Taras Lyssenko, a partner in A and T Recovery, a company dedicated to the recovery and preservation of history that had been lost under water, and rediscover of the UC-97. His activities have led to the discovery of the location of hundreds of artifacts including World War II aircraft, ships dating back to the 1800s and even the remnants of a forest that dates back over 8000 years. Taras is one of the leaders of the team that has recovered dozens of the aircraft on behalf of the National Naval Aviation Museum. Those aircraft are now on display in museums and airports across the United States.

Mr. Lyssenko was a commissioned Army officer, Ranger qualified, who now works in government relations and business development within the realms of defense, energy, aviation, medicine and homeland security. He donates great amounts of time assisting in educational efforts for students ranging from grade school to college, and he has written two books, including the children’s book “Wendy’s Fear of Heights” and the firsthand account of marine exploration and aircraft recovery, “The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan: The True Story of the Privateers of Lake Michigan and the Aircraft They Rescued.”

Sound interesting? Join us on December 18 to learn more about this fascinating page of almost forgotten history. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.