The submarine U-550 as the crew abandoned ship. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
The past always surfaces.
Nearly 70 years after being destroyed, a German U-boat from World War II has been discovered 70 miles off the southern coast of Nantucket.
The submarine, named U-550, was found by a seven-man, privately-funded group headed by Joe Mazraani, a lawyer from New Jersey.
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The find is significant, because in April 1944, U-550 torpedoed a gasoline tanker with 140,000 barrels of gasoline heading for Great Britain, killing 25. The U-boat, however, was destroyed by depth charges from an escort vessel. Forty-four Germans died.
The discovery did not come easy.
"They've looked for it for over 20 years," said Mazraani. "It's another World War II mystery solved."
To locate the missing U-boat, the team employed the use of a side-scan sonar, which can create a large-scale image of sea floors. This allowed them to finally spot the carcass of the German attack submarine.
Because the U-boat was never locked on and fired at with a torpedo it was hard to locate. The depth charges that destroyed it were an imprecise defensive mechanism that never allowed the United States to track the precise location of the U-boat.
Lawyer Mazraani spent tens of thousands of his own dollars locating the submarine. He claims that all he had was a simple, human motivation.
"The history behind it all is really what drives us," he said.
He jokingly said that nobody in the team stood to make money unless somebody wrote a book about them.
German U-boats began being deployed by the Nazis in World War II against the United States in order to disrupt supply lines the United States was offering to the Allies, as well as damage or kill any troops being sent to the European mainland.