New images captured of WWII Nazi U-boat in Gulf of Mexico

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 16 at 2:55 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The Gulf of Mexico continues to hold historic World War II treasures, from sunken ships to one of Hitler's U-boats.

This week a diving expedition captured new images of the German wreckage. Historians say it serves as a reminder of how close the Nazis came to American soil.

"It is a static time capsule and all of these ship wrecks in deep water are just that. They're moments frozen in time, in history," said Richie Kohler, a shipwreck historian helping with the expedition.

Submerged in the Gulf of Mexico just south of the mouth of the Mississippi River sits a barnacle encrusted U-boat tomb.

Decades after it sank, the vessel is well-preserved shielded from excessive oxygen or light. It serves as a haunting reminder of the World War II battles against the Nazis just off the Louisiana coast.

"Most people don't realize that during World War II, America really was under siege," said National World War II Museum curator Tom Czekanski.

This new and more detailed images of the sunken U-166 were captured by an underwater expedition. The group of explorers were led by the same man who discovered the Titanic.

"Hitler brought the war to our doorstep shortly after they declared war on us," said Dr. Bob Ballard with Ocean Exploration Trust.

Back in July 1942, a Coast Guard escort vessel blasted the U-boat apart after it sank the SS Robert E Lee, a freighter bound for New Orleans, killing 25 passengers on-board.

"Once we improved our defenses there, they shifted down to the Gulf of Mexico where we didn't have enough forces to keep up with it," said Czekanski about Germany's decision to move its U-boats south after the U.S. fortified its Atlantic Coast.

"War came very close to our shores. Over 20 U-boats operated in the Gulf of Mexico and over 70 ships were sunk off the Gulf of Mexico in 1942 and 1943," added Czekanski.

It's a sunken historic archive, including the U-166, that will remain exactly where it is for generations to come.

"The U-166 will never be raised. There are 56 German soldiers entombed on board, and by international agreement she is a war grave," said Czekanski.

If you'd like to see more video and images of the submerged U-boat click here.

 

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