Researchers from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries recently discovered two significant vessels from World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic: German U-boat 576 and the freighter Bluefields. Both vessels were found about 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina where they were lost more than 70 years ago in an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Both vessels were sunk on July 15, 1942, as U.S. Navy Convoy KS-520, a group of 19 merchant ships and naval escorts, was en route to Key West, Fla., from Norfolk, Va., to deliver cargo.
The convoy was attacked off Cape Hatteras by German submarine U-576. The sub sank the Nicaraguan-flagged freighter Bluefields but no hands were lost on the freighter. In response, U.S. Navy aircraft bombed U-576 and sank it. Both wrecks now lie at the bottom about 240 feet from each other.
The vessels were discovered and their identities confirmed by NOAA research vessels that were surveying the area for ships lost during WWII as part of NOAA’s Battle of the Atlantic Research Project.
The identified wrecks are now protected under international law, the U-boat as a war grave.