It has been well documented that German submarines came disturbingly close to U.S. shores during World War II — but just how close was made all the more apparent by the recent discovery of a German U-550 sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean a mere 70 miles south of Nantucket.
Back in the Spring of 1944, an Allied convoy started to make its way across the Atlantic on its way to Britain. One of the boats, a tanker filled with 140,000 barrels of gasoline, started to lag behind, leaving it vulnerable to a German U-550 submarine patrolling the area. It torpedoed the tanker, and then slipped underneath to hide.
Alerted to its presence, the USS Joyce hit back with a series of depth charges, forcing the sub to the surface. The German sailors manned their deck guns, but the USS Gandy joined in by returning fire and ramming right into it. The USS Peterson then finished the job by sending another barrage of depth charges, sending the U-550 and its crew to the bottom of the ocean. It hadn't been seen again — at least not until last Monday July 23.
According to the Telegraph, a privately funded team led by New Jersey lawyer Joe Mazraani has confirmed discovery of the submarine in deep waters off the coast of Nantucket. It was their second attempt in two years to find the U-boat, with some team members having been on the case for the past two decades. From the article:
The U-550 is one of several World War II-era German U-boats that have been discovered off the US coast, but it's the only one that sank in that area, Mazraani said. He said it's been tough to find largely because military positioning of the battle was imprecise, and searchers had only a general idea where the submarine was when it sank. Kozak noted that the site is far offshore and has only limited windows of good weather.
The team towed a side-scan sonar vessel in a mow-the-lawn pattern over the search area and found the U-550 after covering 100 square miles of ocean, between the trip this year and last year, Mr Kozak said.
Just the nose of U-boat was visible on sonar on the first pass, but the team was delirious after the second pass. when the sonar image made it obvious they'd found it, Mazraani said. Quick dives to the wreck to beat bad weather confirmed the find with pictures.
Mr Mazraani is cagey about the vessel's precise location, saying only that it's in deep water. Mazraani's said his best estimate was that the team spent thousands of dollars of its own money on the expedition. He joked that no one on the team, whose members range in age from the mid-20s to mid-50s, stands to make money from the find unless someone writes a book.
Mr Mazraani said the next step is to contact any sailors or their families from the escort vessels, the tanker and the German U-boat to share the news and show the pictures. Another trip to the site is coming, he said, adding the investigation has just started.
Read more about it here.
Images via Telegraph.