Thursday, July 14, 2011

WWII Shipwrecks

A reader recently commented on a news report about rusting fuel tanks in sunken vessels off our coasts. Following are several quotations from the article, "WWII Shipwrecks Could Threaten U.S. Coast," published in the Baltimore Sun, July 8, 2011. (You can read the entire article here:

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking an inventory of more than 30,000 coastal shipwrecks — some of them casualties of the 1942 Battle of the Atlantic — and identifying those that pose the most significant threat....

"...Part of NOAA's task has been to comb through ship manifests, naval records, reports of sinkings, insurance documents and survivors' accounts to determine which ships burned and which probably went down with their fuel and cargo.

"From that, the agency can work to identify those posing the greatest risk of leaking, and those offering opportunities for salvage operations to recover the oil or other cargo before it becomes a costly spill."

I am aware of no leaking fuel tanks off the coast of North Carolina. Although there is no cause for alarm at this time, there is cause for concern. Of course, we hope NOAA is successful in identifying, locating, and salvaging sunken fuel and cargo before problems arise.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a modern day ghost tale, "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Many are still unaware of the Nazi U boats being right off our shores. It was covered up- you won't read it in history books. I was born in 1940 & only became aware of these shocking events recently through reading the1st hand account given by Blanche in the Free Island Press. In my opinion, it would be an interesting newsletter sometime...what do you think?

  2. German U-boats sank numerous merchant vessels off the coast of NC in the first six months of 1942. Ocracoke residents heard the explosions which rattled windows, saw black smoke rise up off the ocean, and watched as the sky turned red from the raging fires.

    I agree, this would be an interesting newsletter. Look for it sometime within the next year.

  3. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Thank you for considering it. You didn't say "we'll see" - which we all know is a "definite maybe"-so I'll be looking forward to reading it .

  4. Anonymous11:22 AM

    "Sank numerous merchant vessels off the coast of NC in the first six months of 1942" perhaps these wrecks should be under consideration by NOAA since they could contribute to the rusting concerns. Black smoke on a metal ship -- hmm, I suppose that was fuel and oil

  5. The ship casualties from 1942 are the primary wrecks being investigated by NOAA.

  6. Don Davis3:24 PM

    The book "Torpedo Junction" by Homer Hickam gives a very good account of the German U-Boat activity off the east coast of the United States. I think it's available at Books To Be Red, or, if you're on the mainland like I am, carries it.