| July 17, 2008
NOAA expedition is surveying German
subs sunk off the coast during World War II
NOAA expedition is surveying German subs sunk off the coast during World War II
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is leading a research
expedition this month 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, called U-boats -- 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, also known as the Battle of
Torpedo Junction, 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.
The first leg of the expedition was conducted off the coast of Morehead
City from July 6-11 at the wreck site of the U-352, and the second leg
is being conducted until about the end of July. It is operating
out of Oregon Inlet on the wrecks of U-85 and U-701. The divers are
using traditional archaeological mapping techniques coupled with video
and photographic documentation to map the sites in detail and to assess
their historical significance and archaeological integrity.
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
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 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 protects.
For more information:
More information on the expedition is available at:
More information on World War II off the Outer Banks is available on The Island Free Press Island History Category Page.