From June 9-30, 2010, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, in partnership with Minerals Management Service, National Park Service, State of North Carolina, NOAA's National Center for Coastal and Ocean Science, East Carolina University, Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration Research and Technology, and the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute is conducting an underwater archaeological field expedition to the remains of vessels from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic.
This expedition is a continuation of the research work conducted in the summers of 2008 and 2009 by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to research and document historically significant shipwrecks tragically lost during World War II, including U.S. and British naval vessels, merchant marine vessels, and German U-boats.
Previous projects have focused on military vessels. However, the largest representation of Battle of the Atlantic vessels is comprised primarily of merchant vessels. These ships represent a wide variety of culture and heritage from as many as 12 different countries.
This year's expedition will aid in the possible defining of a cohesive battlefield site or a broader understanding of the resources in relation to one another. Rather than looking at each site individually, the goal is to look at the resources of the region associated with this event and how they relate to each other historically and how their disposition related to other external factors, such as shipping lanes and geographic features. In this way the merchant vessel becomes a part of the larger story. Each shipwreck becomes an artifact in a massive assemblage that together tells a more complete story of this significant period in American history.