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Two World War II vessels found off North Carolina

A team of researchers discovered two significant vessels from World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic. The German U-boat 576 and the freighter Bluefields were found about 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

The discovery of the two vessels, lost for more than 70 years in an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, is a rare window into a historic military battle and the underwater battlefield landscape of the war.

“This is not just the discovery of a single shipwreck,” Joe Hoyt, a NOAA sanctuary scientist and chief scientist for the expedition, said in a statement. “We have discovered an important battle site that is part of the Battle of the Atlantic. These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories.”

On July 15, 1942, Convoy KS-520, a group of 19 merchant ships escorted by the Navy and Coast Guard, was en route to Key West, Fla., from Norfolk, Va., to deliver cargo to aid the war effort when it was attacked off Cape Hatteras.

The U-576 sank the Nicaraguan-flagged freighter Bluefields and severely damaged two other ships. In response, Navy Kingfisher aircraft, which provided the convoy’s air cover, bombed U-576 as the merchant ship Unicoi attacked it with its deck gun. Bluefields and U-576 were lost within minutes and now rest on the seabed less than 240 yards apart.

CNN included a slideshow of historic photos with its report on the find.