Successful Shipwreck Hunters Launch Third Expedition to Uncover WWII History

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A team of shipwreck hunters led by noted shipwreck explorer Jerry Eliason has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to support the search for U-656, the first German submarine sunk by U.S. forces in WWII.

Once in a lifetime opportunity to uncover history.

A group of Great Lakes shipwreck hunters will be conducting their 3rd expedition to Newfoundland next month with the aim of locating and documenting the final resting place of U-656, the first German U-boat sunk by U.S. forces in WWII. The usually small team of dedicated shipwreck enthusiasts has invited people from around the world to join the search team through the Kickstarter campaign. Proceeds from the campaign will be used to conduct a detailed aerial magnetic survey of the 100 square-mile search area prior to the arrival of the camera and dive team.

“We had a lot of success in 2013 using aerial magnetic data to locate shipwrecks,” says Eliason. “U-656 is quite a bit smaller than the ore boats we found last year, so we need to hire a custom survey with closer flight lines to guarantee detection.” The team searched 40 square-miles using side scan sonar during previous self-funded expeditions in 2010 and 2012. Eliason’s son Jarrod is organizing the Kickstarter campaign and explains the motivation for utilizing the popular crowdfunding site. “The sinking of U-656 was a milestone event in American and world history. Kickstarter provides a convenient way for us to partner with people who share our excitement about this once in a lifetime opportunity to uncover history.”

During the 5-year search beginning in 2009, the team has interviewed eyewitnesses to the sinking of U-656 and collected log books and reports that provide a window into the early part of 1942 when German U-boats sank ships up and down the cost of North America.

About U-656:

U-656 is a Type VIIC U-boat constructed in Hamburg, Germany and commissioned on 17 September 1941. Manned by Captain Ernst Kröning and a crew of 44, U-656 made two patrols but did not sink any ships. U-656 is noteworthy as the first U-boat sunk by U.S. forces in World War II.

About the sinking:

On March 1, 1942 Ensign William Tepuni and the crew of his Lockheed Hudson sighted U-656 cruising on the surface south of Cape Race, Newfoundland. The sun was low in the late winter sky preventing lookouts on the sub from detecting the plane until it was too late. The U-boat dove but was still visible when depth charges dropped from the Hudson exploded on both sides of the submarine causing an oil slick to immediately rise to the surface. The next day destroyers U.S.S. Gleaves and U.S.S. Bernadou arrived at the scene to finish off the sub.

About the search team:

Jerry Eliason, Kraig Smith and Ken Merryman have collectively located 16 previously undiscovered shipwrecks in Lake Superior. The team considers shipwrecks to be historic and cultural resources and removes no artifacts from the wrecks they locate. They have been instrumental in nominating the ships they have located to the National Register of Historic Places.

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