Object of the Day

Front View of German Sub. U.B. 88

The caption on the bottom of this photograph reads ” German Sub. U.B. 88 Pedro Miguel C.Z”. What  can you tell us about this photograph?


When might this photograph have been taken?

What would a German Sub be doing in Panama?

Please share with us in the comments section below!


  • John Schmidt ( BHS 50 )

    We can only see how valuable it is when you tale a photo- it has to be identified. I never heard of this transit of a UBoat – but there it is – German Cross and all…….But…Not date nor other valuable information

  • Stewart R

    The UB 88 was surrendered in England at the end of World War 1 on November 27, 1918. The British Admiralty allocated her along with several others to the US in March 1919, and she sailed to New York where she was opened to the public. From here she made an exhibition cruise south to Savanna, GA, with many stops to be shown to the public. She then sailed to Colon with the USS Bittern as tender, and transited the canal on August 12, 1919, when this photo was taken. From Balboa she continued her exhibition cruise to the west coast of the US, ending in San Pedro on November 7, 1919. She was sunk off Los Angeles in 1921 in a live fire exercise. The wreck was discovered some 80 years later in 2003 in 185 feet of water, and is now a dive site.
    The whole history can be read at http://www.ub88.org.

    • Luis Celerier

      Stewart R is correct. I just finished doing the search and that is what I found plus a couple of more photos of UB-88 in Balboa. Thanks, Stewart, I knew you would have the answer.

  • Luis Celerier

    From the cross on the UB-88 it is obvious pre-Nazi, or at least from before Hitler adopted the Swastika as the National Emblem. Or it could even be before WW I. It would be interesting to research German subs and find out more about this particular one.

  • Robert Dryja

    The German submarine may have arrived during peace time with the United States, but here is a twist.

    I understood from my dad that ships from any nation legally could transit the canal with no restrictions even during war time. However a ship could be attacked as soon it was out of canal jurisdiction a short distance into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. (Dad was in charge of canal operations in the Marine Bureau.)

    Freighters from Cuba regularly carried sugar to China through the canal even at the height of tensions with Fidel Castro in the 1960’s. This caused a major political headache at one time for my dad. A canal pilot had just left a Cuban freighter at the Pacific entrance and so the ship technically was then a Cuban government responsibility. The Cuban freighter turned unexpectedly directly into the path of Norwegian ore carrier and was sliced nearly in half. It limped back to the Balboa docks and remained there for weeks. Sea water was pumped continuously out of the freighter so it would not sink at the dock. This in turn meant that the Balboa Harbor area was polluted with tons of sugar water, killing fish.

    A number of companies in the United States placed legal claims against ship since they had had their assets in Cuba taken over by the Castro government. Until these claims were settled and ship repaired, it remained at the dock.

    • Stewart R

      Interesting post Robert. In the case of UB 88, my understanding is that she was an American war prize when she transited the canal during her tour of the US which was an exhibition tour to show her to the US public. She was no longer owned by the German government after being surrendered to the British at the end of WW1.

  • Edward Conn

    The German Submarine U.B.88,  was NOT in Panama, but specifically at the Panama Canal, Pedro Miguel Locks,  Canal Zone. From: The Panama Canal Museum Collection at UF To: conned1@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 11:48 AM Subject: [New post] Front View of German Sub. U.B. 88 #yiv4032307258 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4032307258 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4032307258 a.yiv4032307258primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4032307258 a.yiv4032307258primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4032307258 a.yiv4032307258primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4032307258 a.yiv4032307258primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4032307258 WordPress.com | ufpcmcollection posted: “The caption on the bottom of this photograph reads ” German Sub. U.B. 88 Pedro Miguel C.Z”. What  can you tell us about this photograph?When might this photograph have been taken?What would a German Sub be doing in Panama?Please share with” | |

    • Luis Celerier

      As explained by Stewart R. the sub was no longer a German sub, though the markings still remained. By the time the UB-88 crossed the isthmus by means of the Panama Canal, she was a “war prize” from WW I and the property of the United States Government.

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