Sunken WWII U-Boat That Fired On U.S. Convoy Found

U-576, a long-lost German U-boat the U.S. sank in 1942, has been found just 30 miles off North Carolina's coast and near the wreckage of another ship.

Sunken WWII U-Boat That Fired On U.S. Convoy Found

Federal researchers say they've found long-lost pieces of the fight against the Nazis just 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

This is a sonar image of U-576, a German U-boat the U.S. says attacked a Navy-escorted convoy of ships in July 1942, sinking one of the merchant vessels.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in August archaeologists ID'd both U-576 and the merchant ship it sank, Bluefields — the two vessels' final resting places were only a few hundred yards apart.

ANNOUNCER: "Deep in hostile waters ... "

As one NOAA official noted, most people think of the Battle of the Atlantic as a series of ambushes and skirmishes in the north Atlantic or nearer Europe like in the movie "U-571."

But the Nazi naval campaign and Hitler’s orders reached across the pond. In this case, that decision proved fatal for the 45 German crew members on board.

The NOAA’s marine sanctuary division says Captain Hans-Dieter Heinicke decided to attack the convoy despite a crippled U-boat ship already sailing home for repairs.

“In spite of his damaged ship, Heinicke decided to attack at all costs.”

But the convoy detected the U-boat’s sonar signal and began depth charges before it could line up ideal torpedo shots.

The German Foreign Office has released a statement assuming ownership of the vessel and designated it a sea grave.

“As such, [the fallen soldiers] are under special protection and should, if possible, remain at their site and location to allow the dead to rest in peace.”

This video includes images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Christoph Schrief / CC BY NC SA 2.0.