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Wreckage found and a 75-year old mystery solved

The Associated Press agency reported that a group of divers found and identified the wreck of USS Eagle PE-56, the last American ship sunk by the German Kriegsmarine, during World War II. For a long time, it was believed that the vessel sank as a result of a boiler explosion, but some time ago, it
Published: July 20, 2019 - 21:32
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:25
Wreckage found and a 75-year old mystery solved

The Associated Press agency reported that a group of divers found and identified the wreck of USS Eagle PE-56, the last American ship sunk by the German Kriegsmarine, during World War II. For a long time, it was believed that the vessel sank as a result of a boiler explosion, but some time ago, it was reported that the ship was sunk by a German U-boat.

The location of the USS “Eagle” remained unknown from the time it was sunk on April 23, 1945, until June 2018. It was then that the wreck was tracked in Atlantic Ocean waters, at a depth of more than 90 metres, 8 km off the coast of the state of Maine.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”This particular wreck, has been the cause of many a “Wouldn’t it be great to find it?” conversation. It’s one of those units whose story gets under your skin and doesn’t let you rest, making you think and act. And it soon became clear that I just had to find him, because if not me, then who?” – said Ryan King, a member of the 8-man dive team that located the wreck[/blockquote].

18xp-sunken1-jumbo

King and his 7 companions had been searching for 4 years for the USS “Eagle” PE-56, a vessel whose sinking was one big mystery and claimed the lives of 49 of the 62 crew members. Last June, they finally came across a “wall of steel” that turned out to be what they were looking for.

Throughout the rest of the summer of 2018, the group conducted a further 20 dives on the wreck. They collected documentation and looked for conclusive evidence that the found vessel was the Eagle. The searchers worked closely with Robert Neyland, who leads the Naval History and Heritage Command’s underwater archaeology branch.

This particular warship was designed by Henry Ford himself, for operations during the First World War, and proved to be the only ship of its class lost in combat.

Sunken Warship

The sinking of the USS Eagle was initially thought to be an accident caused by a boiler explosion, despite accounts from surviving crew members who testified that they spotted the German submarine before their vessel went down.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the rare situation when the US Navy overturned its first ruling and changed the cause of the sinking. This occurred after the declassification of German documents confirming that the American ship was hit by a torpedo fired from U-boat U-853.

In the fall of 2019, the Smithsonian Channel will air the documentary Hunt for Eagle 56, describing the search and discovery made by Ryan King and his companions.

Source: stripes.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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