The photos and videos on this page are from dives to the U-352, Tugboat James J. Francesconi (http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/050716-francesconi-tug), Aeolus and the SS Indra. I’d like to thank Discovery Diving for their professional & friendly dive charter service. Click on any photo to expand and run a slideshow. More information and video is continued below photos…………..
North Carolina Shipwrecks are prevalent on the coast, and the area has been nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” This graveyard is significant due to the conditions at Cape Hatteras. Cold water flows down the coast from the north and collides with the warm Gulf Stream current from the tropics. Sailing vessels during the nineteenth-century coastal trade heydays could not round Cape Hatteras for weeks because of the combined forces of the Gulf Stream and prevailing winds from the southwest. When the wind finally switched from the north, some vessels would end up on the shore.
Contributing to the cause of all the wreckage is the fact that there is not a dependable harbour of refuge between the Chesapeake Bay and Beaufort Inlet, which is a distance of 200 miles. Inlets along this coastal area would close without warning, and channels shifted nonstop. The low-lying coastline was also tricky for mariners to figure out the difference between an inlet and a low beach.
The famous pirate Blackbeard used the shallow inlets to hide his shallow draft ships from the Navy in this area. His crew made many attacks and seizures of vessels in this area of the US coastline. Blackbeard’s ship wreckage, the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” was found in this area in shallow water. Visitors can see the artifacts of the “Queen Anne’s Revenge” at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina, not far from Moorehead City. Artifacts from the wreck can also be seen at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Historic Bath in Bath offers visitors the chance to walk some of the same paths that Blackbeard would have walked.
The Civil War brought more wreckage to the North Carolina shore. More than 60 vessels were lost during this war. At least 15 ships were sunk by German submarines (U-boats) during World War I. In less than three years during World War II, approximately 90 more vessels were lost, including three German U-boats. There are an estimated 1,000 vessels lost in the shipwreck inventory of the North Carolina shoreline.
This German U boat was laid down in 1940 and launched in 1941. She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in). The sub was powered by two four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines and two double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower. It could operate in depths up to 230 meters (750 ft.).
U-352 left St. Nazaire on 7 April 1942 and sailed across the Atlantic to the north-eastern coast of the United States. On 9 May 1942, she fired torpedoes on a US Coast Guard cutter Icarus south of Moorehead City, North Carolina. The torpedoes failed to hit the Icarus. The Icarus retaliated by firing depth charges on the U-352, which wrecked the conning tower and blew off the deck gun. The U-boat was forced to surface after two more depth charge attacks, and the U-boat captain, KL Rathke, ordered the scuttling and abandonment of his ship. While attempting to abandon the U-boat, the Icarus machine-gunned the sub. Seventeen crew were killed, and the rest were taken to Charleston, SC, as prisoners of war.
Tugboat James J. Francesconi
The JJF was a U.S. Army L.T. oceangoing tug boat sunk as an artificial reef in May 2016. The tug sits in 60 feet of water and is a coastal dive. Its length is 107 feet and is penetrable.
Originally this vessel began service as the USS Turandot, an Artemis-class attack cargo ship in 1945. Later it was converted to a cable repair ship in 1955 and renamed the Aeolus (Greek God of Winds). It worked as a cable repair ship for 30 years. The Aeolus was retired in 1985 and sunk as an artificial reef in 1988. The ship lies in 110 feet of water, 22 miles from Beaufort Inlet. The ship laid intact until Hurrican Fran shifted, broke the vessel into three pieces, and scattered the wreckage in 1996.
The Indra was an Achelous class landing craft repair ship commissioned in 1945. She spent two decades in the Pacific Reserve Fleet and then recommissioned in 1967. The SS Indra then went to Vietnam in 1968 to serve as a tender and floating base for the Mobile Riverine Force. She was eventually taken off the Naval Vessel Register in 1989 and was transferred in 1992 to be an artificial reef off the North Carolina coast near Moorehead City.
Diving depth on the SS Indra is 30-60 feet of water. Marine life often encountered are barracuda, toadfish, baitfish, flounder, amberjack and sometimes sand tiger sharks.
Approximately 100 feet from the SS Indra is a small barge that was intentionally sunk.