Survey of World War II Shipwrecks in Graveyard of Atlantic Underway

It may come as a surprise to some, but during the Second World War German U-boats attacked and sank dozens of ships in the region just off the North Carolina coast known as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.”  

Wrecks include British and American merchant vessels and navy ships, as well as German U-boats, most of which were sunk during the Battle of the Atlantic in the first half of 1942.  

As this article relates, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began a multi-year project to survey these wrecks last summer and the project’s second season is now underway.  This page includes information on the survey work conducted in 2008.

One of the wrecks to be surveyed this year is that of the HMT Bedfordshire, an armed British trawler, whose entire crew was lost when the ship was torpedoed on May 12th, 1942.  Bodies of some of the crew were recovered and lie buried in a graveyard on North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island.  You can read about the Bedfordshire here and here.

This article, from 2008, discusses problems with looting and damage to these wrecks which are attributed to recreational divers.  The NOAA survey will provide information on their current condition which can serve as a benchmark for later preservation efforts.  

Greensboro Public Library of course has a large selection of books on World War II.  Among those dealing with topics such as the Battle of the Atlantic and U-boats, you can find:  Bitter Ocean:  The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1945 by David Fairbank White; The Battle of the Atlantic:  Hitler’s Gray Wolves of the Sea and the Allies Desperate Struggle to Defeat Them by Andrew Williams; The Atlantic Turkey Shoot:  U-Boats Off the Outer Banks in World War II by James T. Cheatham; and U-boat Commander:  A Periscope View of the Battle of the Atlantic by Peter Cremer.

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