In an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, researchers discovered two vessels that sank in 1942 during a World War II battle.
"This is not just the discovery of a single shipwreck," said Joe Hoyt, NOAA sanctuary scientist and chief scientist for the expedition. "We have discovered an important battle site that is part of the Battle of the Atlantic. These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories."
The freighter Bluefields and the German U-boat 576 were discovered about 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. On July 15, 1942, a convoy of 19 merchant ships escorted by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard was en route to Key West, Florida, from Norfolk, Virginia. The U-576 attacked, sank Bluefields, and damaged two others. In retaliation, a Navy aircraft bombed the U-576, and it came under fire from the merchant ship Unicoi. Within minutes, both Bluefields and U-576 were lost.
David Alberg, superintendent of NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, says that most people think the Battle of the Atlantic took place in the "icy waters of the North Atlantic, but few realize how close the war actually came to America's shores."