By Christopher Horrell
Senior Marine Archaeologist
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
Chris Horrell, Marine Archaeologist from BOEMRE, dives on the remains of the Dixie Arrow. (UNC CSI)
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), an agency within the Department of the Interior, has entered into a multiyear interagency agreement with NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and is providing funding to record and investigate shipwrecks lost along the coast of North Carolina during World War II. The responsibility to document these non-renewable resources falls under the National Historic Preservation Act and provides baseline data to our agency to aid in developing best management strategies for these important archaeological resources.
These shipwrecks are not only representations of our nation's maritime heritage; they also present a snapshot of a time when our country was facing some of its darkest moments. Today, these archaeological sites serve a new role as habitats for numerous species of fish, coral, and sponges. Additionally, they are tied to the local economies of the region serving as venues for sport diving and fishing.
Yesterday, the team and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to dive the tugboat Keshena, which was lost off Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. On July 19, 1942, the Keshena was aiding the Panamanian-flagged ship, J.A. Mowinckel, that had been previously torpedoed and mined. A mine struck the Keshena's stern quarter and most of the crew and one woman abandoned the doomed vessel. Two men on watch above the area of the explosion perished. Today, the site is teeming with fish and the visibility provides the scientific team the opportunity to photograph and video document this unique site. Diver visual inspection is the best way to fully understand what is occurring at this site through detailed scientific data collection.
Chris Horrell, Marine Archaeologist from BOEMRE, collects archaeological information while diving on the Kassandra Louloudis. (UNC CSI)
I was also able to dive the remains of S.S. Kassandra Louloudis, which was torpedoed off Ocracoke on March 17, 1942 by U-124, a German submarine. S.S. Kassandra Louloudis, a Greek freighter, was carrying a cargo of railroad car wheels, truck tires, cement, rebar, and a number of other items when the attack occurred. All personnel survived the attack and today, this site is alive with fish, coral, and sponges. My main task is to document the features of the vessel's steam condenser and the propeller and rudder assembly. Tomorrow we dive U-701!