July 7, 2008
NOAA and Partners
to Survey German Subs Sunk off North Carolina During World War II
NOAA will lead a research
expedition July 7-26 to study the wrecks of three German submarines
sunk by U.S. forces in 1942 off the coast of North Carolina during the
Battle of the Atlantic.
“This expedition is the first part of a
larger multi-year project to research and document a number of
historically significant shipwrecks tragically lost during World War
II, including U.S. and British naval vessels and merchant marine
vessels,” said David W. Alberg, expedition leader and
superintendent of USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. “The
information collected during this expedition will be crucial to efforts
to preserve these historic sites.”
During the expedition, researchers will survey and
photograph visible sections of the three submarines, U-352, U-85 and
U-701 using non-invasive methods. The survey team will also study
marine life found at the sites. Consistent with U.S. and international
policy, the submarine wreck sites are considered war graves and will
not be disturbed during the expedition.
NOAA’s Office of National Marine
Sanctuaries is conducting the survey in partnership with the Minerals
Management Service, National Park Service, state of North Carolina,
East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina Coastal
Studies Institute, who are all providing technical expertise and
logistical support for the expedition.
The sunken German U-boats are located in an area
known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” which
encompasses shipwrecks from both sides of the Battle of the Atlantic at
recreational diving depths (less than 130 feet). The wrecks are popular
dive sites off the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Two of the U-boats, U-352 and U-85, have been
severely impacted by salvage operators and souvenir hunters since their
discovery more than three decades ago. U-701 is relatively intact but
also has begun to show signs of damage from illegal salvage attempts.
The sub was discovered by recreational divers in 1989 before being
covered by sand and rediscovered in 2004.
Phase two of the project, scheduled for summer
2009, will investigate primarily the Allied wrecks in the Graveyard of
the Atlantic. Some of the wrecks lie at recreational diving depths,
while many are located in deeper waters where they remain untouched and
in relatively good condition.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated
to enhancing economic security and national safety through the
prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and
information service delivery for transportation, and by providing
environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.
Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70
countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring
network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and
On the Internet:
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries