Conflict & Justice

German U-boat found off coast of Nantucket 70 years after sinking


A modern German submarine – the U33 – is seen at the naval base in Eckernfoerde, Germany, on July 16, 2008.


Martin Rose

A privately-funded search team has discovered a German submarine that sank in a World War II skirmish about 70 miles south of Nantucket, the Associated Press reported.

The crew swept the ocean with sonar to locate the U-boat, then dove to the wreck to confirm the find and take photographs, the Boston Globe reported.

Crew members told the Boston Globe that the U-550 was one of the last undiscovered German warships off the east coast.

Nearly 70 years after the ship sank, “she’s totally intact, amazingly,” Garry Kozak, a specialist in undersea searches who works for a company that designs sonar imaging systems, said, according to the Boston Globe.

The submarine’s last day in action was April 16, 1944, when it torpedoed an American gasoline tanker carrying 140,000 barrels of gasoline to Great Britain, the AP reported. One of the tanker's three escorts, the USS Joyce, spotted the sub on sonar and dropped depth charges.

The submarine was forced to surface, and it fired its deck guns, the Boston Globe reported. Three US escort ships fired back, and the German crew abandoned ship. There were 44 casualties and 12 survivors, according to the Boston Globe.

The crew plans to contact the sailors or their families from the escort vessels, the tanker and the submarine to share details of the discovery, then return to the vessel to further document it, the AP reported.

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