Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries found two vessels off the North Carolina coast: a sunken Nazi U-boat and a Nicaraguan freighter.
Both ships were lost for more than 70 years before they were rediscovered 30 miles off the coast.
Bluefields sonar image.
NOAA researchers say on July 15, 1942, a group of 19 merchant ships escorted by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard was en route to Key West, Florida, from Norfolk, Virginia, to deliver cargo to aid the war effort. The convoy was attacked off Cape Hatteras. The U-576 sank Bluefields and severely damaged two other ships. In response, U.S. Navy Kingfisher aircraft bombed U-576, while the merchant ship Unicoi attacked it with its deck gun.
U-576 sonar image.
Both wrecks are protected under international law. No crew members died on the Nicaraguan ship, but four Allied soldiers died during the battle.
The NOAA says that the sunken U-boat is now considered a maritime grave for all 45 deceased crew members.