ECU Partners on Shipwreck
ECU researchers worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this summer to study the wrecks of three German submarines off the North Carolina coast.
U.S. forces sank the German U-boats in 1942 during the Battle of the Atlantic in an area now known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The U-352 is 24 miles off the coast of Morehead City. The U-85 and U-701 are 14 and 40 miles, respectively, off the Nags Head coast.
Faculty and alumni with ECU’s maritime studies program provided support. Nathan Richards, a nautical archaeologist at ECU, said divers planned to do a “cultural heritage assessment” of the sunken submarines.
Researchers surveyed and photographed visible sections of the ships using non-invasive methods. The submarines were not disturbed or recovered in accordance with international policy.
Preservation was a key part of the expedition. Divers assessed damages with the hope of better protecting the historical features in the future, Richards said.
“We’re trying to educate people that there is no such thing as ‘finders keepers’ at a shipwreck. If we can do this work and engender a preservationist attitude among divers, then future generations will be able to enjoy these sites,” he said.
The expedition is part of a multi-year project to explore shipwrecks that occurred during World War II off the coast of North Carolina. Phase two of the project, scheduled for summer 2009, will investigate the Allied wrecks in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. For details, visit http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/missions/battleoftheatlantic/welcome.html.