U-352 Dive Site

Previously, I briefly mentioned the wreck of U-352 off the coast of North America in an introduction I did for Subsim.com about the persistence of U-Boat myths in the US. While mentioning the wreck, I did not delve into the life of U-352 at that time.

U-352 was a Type VIIC U-Boat that was laid down on 11 March 1940, launched on 7 May 1941, commissioned on 28 August 1941, went on her first patrol on 15 January 1942, left for her second patrol on 7 April 1942, and was sunk on 9 May 1942 off the coast of North Carolina south of Morehead City. She was sunk by depth charges from the USCGC Icarus with 33 of the 48 crew surviving to become POWs.

USCGC Icarus arrives at the Charleston Navy Yard the day after sinking U-352 and rescuing 33 survivors.
The crew is fed as a unit – no separation by ranks during the rescue and processing of POWs from U-352.

The sinking is the issue of interest here because she sank in about 100 feet of water and has become a popular dive site due to her new role as an artificial reef. Within days of her sinking, US Navy divers conducted salvage operations finding nothing of value to recover. The site was then left untouched until 1975 when the wreck was discovered by recreational divers.

Photo-mosaic of the U-352 off North Carolina

The NOAA is currently listing the wreck as one of their marine sanctuaries and is working to have the wreck nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Hopefully this will protect the U-Boat from being damaged by recreational divers as well as serve to remind divers that the boat is a war grave. Unlike merchant ships, warships always belong to the nation or successor nation which commissioned them. Even though U-352 is in US territorial waters, it legally belongs to the German government.

Tad pointed out to me U-352‘s inclusion in the most recent issue of National Geographic as part of their coverage of using wrecks to create artificial reefs. The most interesting part here is that National Geographic has an interactive mosaic of the wreck that allows you to zoom in and make out individual parts of the U-Boat.

If you follow the URL above (and here) you will be looking at the conning tower of U-352. The photographs making up this mosaic were all taken from the starboard side of the boat and hence show the wreck from stern (left) to bow (right). So the bow is to your right as you look at the screen and if you page right you will see it. As you page right you will note that the deck gun has been sheared off. It would be approximately where the hull of the submarine shows the most damage. If a depth charge exploded close to the deck gun, the force would be enough shear the mooring bolts.

If you page left you will see a large steel support. It’s hard to make out but I’m certain it is the main structural support for the anti-aircraft guns which were mounted on a platform aft of the bridge. If you continue to page left and go all the way to the stern, you will see the set of double rudders common to German U-Boats.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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