August 8, 2009

Expedition to explore war-time ship wrecks

A three-week expedition off North Carolina will assess the condition of shipwrecks from World War II, a marine preservationist said.

Of special interest are ships sunk in 1942, including U.S. ships, German U-boats merchant ships and British naval ships, said David W. Alberg, expedition leader and superintendent of the USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

This expedition will help us better understand and document this often lost chapter of America's maritime history and its significance to the nation, Alberg said.

Assessing the condition of the wrecks is key to preserving their sites -- time capsules from one of the darkest times in the nation's history, Alberg said.

One of the ships is the HMT Bedfordshire, whose entire crew died when the ship was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine May 12, 1942.

The Aug. 4-24 expedition is being financed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in consultation with the British and German governments.