A team of divers organized and funded by New Jersey lawyer Joe Mazraani recently discovered a German submarine nearly 70 years after it was sunk in a World War II naval battle off the Massachusetts coast.
“We were ecstatic. We were jumping up and high-fiving each other. It’s a lot of work,” said Mazraani.
The U-550 – located using side-scan sonar – is currently listing to its side in deep water approximately 70 miles south of Nantucket. Sonar operator Garry Kozak told reporters he spotted the the 252-foot submarine after two days of meticulous searching.
The U-550 was cruising off the east coast of the United States back on April 16, 1944, when it torpedoed the gasoline tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania was headed to the UK with 140,000 barrels of gasoline, along with a protective convoy of three ships – the USS Joyce, USS Gandy and USS Peterson.
Although the U-boat attempted to evade detection by concealing itself under the sinking freighter, sailors on the USS Joyce managed to identify the German vessel and damage it by dropping depth charges.
Forced to surface, the U-550 fired its deck guns at the American ships, while the USS Gandy returned fire and rammed the U-boat.
The USS Peterson subsequently struck the submarine with with two additional depth charges, forcing the German crew to abandon ship – but not before scuttling the U-boat with explosive charges.
According to Mazraani, the U-550 is one of several World War II-era German U-boats to be discovered off the US coast. The next step, he says, is to try and contact the sailors or the families who were manning the escort vessels, as well as the crew of the tanker and German U-boat.
“The history behind it all is really what drives us,” Mazraani added.