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U-90 WWI German U-boat
That Sank the USS President Lincoln


The U-90 WWI U-boat of the Mittel U class. She was built at the Kaiserliche Werft Shipyard , Danzig, Germany. She was ordered on 23 June 1915 and laid down 29 December 1915. She was launched on 12 January 1917 and commissioned 2 August 1917.

Her Commanders were:

2 August 1917 - 31 July 1918 Walter Remy (who had previously commanded the U-24)
1 August 1918 - 31 August 1918 Helmut Patzig
1 September 1918 - 11 November 1918 Heinrich Jeß

She had a total of 7 war patrols 10 September 1917 - 11 November 1918 with the III Flotilla Her successes 35 ships sunk for a total of 104,509 tons (warships excluded). While under the command of Walter Remy on 30 May 1918 at about sundown, Remey gave the order to fire 3 torpedoes at the USS President Lincoln, a US Navy Troop ship. The President Lincoln was traveling in a West bound convoy of ships and thier destroyer escorts, having passed the so-called danger zone of submarine activity, left the convoy to sail on alone when the President Lincoln was hit. Twenty minutes later the President Lincoln was beneath the sea and of the 715 persons on board, 26 men were lost with the ship. Captain Remy then came to the surface and was looking for officers to take prisoner. After some searching he took Lt. Izac prisoner and left the crew of the President Lincoln on the sea.

The U.S. Destroyers USS Warrington (DD-30) and USS Smith (DD-17) rescued the surviving men in the lifeboats late that night. They were taken to France, arriving at Brest 2 June 1918. Gustavus C. Robbins, who was a member of Warrington's crew at the time, recalls "We had to transfer some men to the Smith as we had too many men to feed."

An account of the sinking of the USS President Lincoln, written to Mrs. F. E. Great-wood by her son, Royce, who was radio operator on the USS President Lincoln. You can read his entire account on this page of the USS President Lincoln.

After floating around aimlessly for about an hour, a dark object was sighted coming over the horizon, which was first taken for a sailing vessel, but soon merged into a large submarine, which upon nearer approach was seen to have her forward gun trained on us; a member of the gun crew was seen to approach the gun and open the breech. This took all the heart out of us, believing that our last hour had come and having heard so much of what German sub-officers had done to English crews when caught in such a predicament. Some of the chaps began cutting the painters holding some of the rafts together, so in case they did open up on us they would not have such a large target to fire on.

While the submarine was coming up, the captain rowed to all the rafts and lifeboats, directing the men in case they were questioned, to say that the captain had gone down with the ship. As few of the lifeboats and rafts were secured together, we were all scattered over a pretty wide area, and some had drifted quite a distance away from the main body. The submarine after circling us several times picked up one man from a raft, which had drifted a considerable distance away from the rest, taking him aboard. They took him below, giving hum a good drink of hot coffee and cognac. The submarine then hailed the boat on which Lieutenant Izac was leaning over the gunwale with his gold rating stripes showing plainly, he not having followed the example of the rest of the officers in taking off their blouses and caps. Ordering them alongside, they ordered him aboard, putting the seaman off the life raft back in the boat. Casting off, they began cruising among the life rafts inquiring for the captain, who, of course, no one had seen, also taking pictures of us. They came within fifty feet of the raft on which I was sitting, giving me a good opportunity to have a look at the "sub," besides having my picture taken in the bargain.

The submarine appeared to be about 215 feet long, constructed something after the shape of a whale, with a large conning tower in the middle, which was about twenty feet high and thirty feet long. This was divided up into three parts: the forward part, the entrance to the conning tower, the middle part consisting of a weather screen, and a small bridge on which a couple of young German officers were standing with their captain. Back of this came the after section, a large platform with a railing around it on which a number of very grimy members of the crew were standing. From each side of the conning tower rose two pedestals through which the periscope was operated. To the tops of these were mounted two wires running fore and aft, used for the wireless. Forward of the conning tower, on the main deck, was mounted a 5.9 inch naval gun, while aft, was a gun of smaller caliber, probably a 4.2. Two watertight doors large enough for a man to pass through were fitted on both sides of the conning tower for use of the gun crews. From the after platform of the conning tower, a small flagstaff was fitted, from which fluttered the "Heinie" ensign.

The crew of the "sub" appeared to be very excited about "getting us," laughing and joking at our helpless predicament in the water. On the whole, they treated us square, but we were mighty glad to see them make a final cruise around, and head for the horizon, disappearing for good.

As soon as the "sub" made her final departure, the life boats began to pick up the men off the rafts, a number of which were badly exhausted and suffering from exposure, having left the ship with practically no clothing. After floating around for four hours on a life raft tip to our hips in water, we were picked tip by the navigator's boat, which was soon loaded to full capacity (43). The captain then issued orders for all boats and rafts to be rounded up to go to a rendezvous, about two miles from where we were drifting. After getting sixteen life rafts in tow we started towards the rendezvous, taking turns at rowing, but owing to everyone being violently seasick our progress was very erratic and slow, taking us four hours to catch up with the others.

The fate of the U-90 ended on 20 November 1918 when she surrendered to allied authorities. She was broken up at Bo'ness in 1919-20.


This page was created on 31 October 2004 and last updated Sun, Dec 18, 2011

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