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SRI International Surveys Newly Discovered WWII U-Boat Wreck off U.S. Atlantic Coast

The U-576, a World War II-era German U-boat, was sunk by the U.S. Navy off the Atlantic coast of Cape Hatteras, NC in 1942 during the Battle of the Atlantic. All 45 crew members aboard were lost. After more than 72 years, the submarine was discovered by a team of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in 2014.

In August 2014, research scientists in SRI International’s Space and Marine Technology Laboratory surveyed the U-576 in its resting location for NOAA. Operating from the NOAA research vessel Sand Tiger, SRI’s Bluefin-12 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) was deployed with a BlueView MB1350 multibeam sonar.             

As the AUV operated at a constant altitude, the MB1350 scanned the submarine. Immediately after recovering the AUV, navigation data from the MB1350 and AUV were downloaded and merged by SRI personnel aboard the Sand Tiger. The point cloud data was then imported into Fledermaus (FM) for study of the U-576 by NOAA archaeologists (Figure 1).

The data clearly shows that the U-576 is resting on its starboard (right) side. To determine accurately the final heading and roll of the U-576, a plane was inserted into the Fledermaus scene and visually aligned with the deck of the submarine. This was used to determine that the U-576 has rolled 55 degrees to starboard (Figure 2) and has a final heading of 40 degrees. The team also used FM to inspect the sub’s 88 mm deck gun, conning tower and other areas of interest.

View historical and sonar images of the U-576 at http://monitor.noaa.gov/science/u-576-media.html.


Figure 1.
German WWII submarine U-576 sunk on July 14, 1942 off of Cape Hatteras.


Figure 2.
To determine the final roll angle of the U-576, a plane was added and visually aligned to the deck to measure the final roll angle of 55 degrees.

 

Thank you to SRI International for providing us with this story, and to NOAA for granting permission to use the story on our website.



 


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