Nazi Sub Portrayed in Raiders of the Lost ArkDiscovered in the North Atlantic

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Nazi Sub Portrayed in Raiders of the Lost ArkDiscovered in the North Atlantic

Yesterday 4:05pm

U-boat U-581 was found covered in coral, and at a depth of nearly 3,000 feet. (Image: Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation/Evonik)

German researchers have discovered the wreck of U-581, a Nazi sub that sunk near the Azores in February 1942. The 220-foot-long VIIC U-boat—the same type of sub featured in the classic films Das Boot and Raiders of the Lost Ark—was found broken in two, and at a depth of nearly 3,000 feet.

Researchers with the German Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation found the wreck last September, but chose to withhold the finding until the precise identity of the sub could be confirmed, and because they wanted to make the announcement public on the 75th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. Working aboard the dive boat LULA 1000, the researchers were able to take hi-resolution pictures of the sunken submarine, revealing its condition and the many corals now clinging to its outer shell.

Image: Military History

The German submarine U-581 was the sister ship to the famous U-96 sub, which was featured in the 1981 war film Das Boot. An exterior mock-up of this sub was also used in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg rented the replica used inDas Boot). Over 560 VIIC-class U-boats were commissioned from 1940 to 1945, appearing in virtually all areas where German subs operated. Known as the “workhorse” of the German Kriegsmarine, these subs featured active sonar, and were powered by six-cylinder, four-stroke diesel engines. VIICs weighed 770 tons, had a range of 9,800 miles (15,700 km) and could cruise above water at speeds reaching 20 mph (39 km/h).

During World War II, the Germans lost nearly 800 submarines of all types, and over 28,000 U-boat sailers. Around one or two subs are found by marine archaeologists each year, but an estimated 100 U-boats are still unaccounted for.

A replica of the VIIC-class U-boat was used in Das Boot and Raiders of the Lost Ark (pictured).

Over a tenure that lasted less than a year, the U-581 carried out two missions, and managed to sink one auxiliary warship (likely the armed British trawler HMS Rosemond). On the evening of February 1, 1942, U-581, working in tandem with another German sub, was tasked with sinking the British squad carrier Llangibby Castle. The Allied ship was scheduled to leave the port of Horta on the Azores island of Faial. But before it could carry out its orders, the U-581 was spotted by the British destroyer Westcott and hit by a depth charge near the island of Pico. Defeated and unwilling to hand over the damaged sub to the British, the commander of the U-581 ordered the crew to skidaddle, and deliberately sank the sub.

Of the 46-man crew, four were killed when a water bomb was thrown at them while they were still in the water (apparently the result of a communication breakdown), 41 were taken prisoner, and one—quite incredibly—was able to escape. Officer Walter Sitek managed to swim 4 miles (6 km) to land. The Spanish officials who found Sitek repatriated him to Germany, where he survived the war (as did the German POWs).

A portion of U-boat U-581. (Image: Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation/Evonik)

Researchers with the Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation, with the approval of Portuguese authorities (the Azores belongs to Portugal), began the hunt for U-581 in the spring of 2016. Using sonar, they created a high-resolution, 3D picture of the seafloor in the areas where the sub likely sank. The sub was found on September 13, 2016 by a crew working aboard the LULA 1000. Images of the sub—found broken into two pieces—were used to confirm its identity.

Work around the sub is still incomplete. The Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation, in addition to studying the unique marine wildlife in the cold, deep waters, is hoping to create a documentary about the discovery.

[Evonik, AP]

George is a contributing editor at Gizmodo and io9.


A treasure hunter found 3 tons of sunken gold — and can’t leave jail until he says where it is

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 Tommy G. Thompson holds a $50 pioneer gold coin in 1989. (Lon Horwedel/Columbus Dispatch via AP)Tommy G. Thompson was once one of the greatest treasure hunters of his time: A dark-bearded diver who hauled a trove of gold from the Atlantic Ocean in 1988 — dubbed the richest find in U.S. history.

Years later, accused of cheating his investors out of the fortune, Thompson led federal agents on a great manhunt — pursued from a Florida mansion to a mid-rent hotel room booked under a fake name.

Now Thompson’s beard has grayed, and he lives in an Ohio jail cell, held there until he gives up the location of the gold.

But for nearly two years, despite threats and fines and the best exertions of a federal judge, no one has managed to make Thompson reveal what he did with the treasure.

The wreck of the S.S. Central America waited 130 years for Thompson to come along. The steamer went down in a hurricane in 1857, taking 425 souls and at least three tons of California gold to the sea floor off South Carolina.

Many tried to find it, but none succeeded until a young, shipwreck-obsessed engineer from Columbus, Ohio, built an underwater robot called “Nemo” to pinpoint the Central America, then dive 8,000 feet under the sea and surface the loot.

“A man as personable as he was brilliant, Thompson recruited more than 160 investors to fund his expedition,” Columbus Monthly noted in a profile. He “spent years studying the ship’s fateful voyage … and developing the technology to plunge deeper in the ocean than anyone had before to retrieve its treasure.”

Thompson’s crew pulled up rare 19th-century coins, the ship’s bell and “gold bars . . . 15 times bigger than the largest California gold bar previously known to exist,” the Chicago Tribune reported in 1989.

And 95 percent of the wreck site was still unexplored — potentially worth $400 million in gold alone, The Washington Post reported a year later. “The treasure trove is the richest in American history and the deepwater salvage effort the most ambitious ever undertaken anywhere.”

The expedition’s loot captured the country’s attention, as did the peculiarities of its leader — a scientist-seafarer hybrid who worked on nuclear submarine systems before he hunted treasure.

“Thompson is not exactly the romantic, swashbuckling sort,” Forbes wrote during the years-long recovery of the ship’s treasure. “He is scientific and methodical, with none of the P.T. Barnum that infuses (and inflates) other salvors.”

In his late 30s, during the height of his fame, Thompson said little in public and tended to play down his role in the discovery.

“This gold is part of the largest treasure trove in American history,” he told reporters in 1989. “But the history of the S.S. Central America is also a rich part of our nation’s cultural treasury.”

He added: “It’s a celebration of American ideals: free enterprise and hard work.”

But before long, some of Thompson’s bankrollers began painting a very different picture of the man.

Two of the expedition’s biggest investors took him to court in the 2000s, accusing him of selling nearly all the gold and keeping the profits to himself.

When a federal judge ordered Thompson to appear in 2012, he didn’t show. An arrest warrant was issued, but the man who found a long-lost shipwreck had disappeared.

There followed a two-year manhunt for what a top U.S. Marshal called “perhaps one of the smartest fugitives” the agency had ever chased.

Thompson had “almost limitless resources and approximately a ten year head start” in the chase, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio Peter Tobin said in a statement.

Thompson and his girlfriend had been living for years in a Florida mansion, paying rent with cash that was damp and moldy from the earth it had been buried in, The Post’s Abby Phillip reported last year. The couple had fled by the time authorities found the house.

Government records detailed what they’d left behind: disposable cellphones, money straps stamped “$10,000” and a guide on evading law enforcement titled “How to be Invisible.”

Thompson was finally caught in January 2015, after agents tracked his girlfriend to a $200-a-night hotel near West Palm Beach, The Post reported at the time.

In a celebratory statement, Tobin said the U.S. Marshals had used “all of our resources and ingenuity” to find the treasure hunter.

But they didn’t find the treasure.

Thompson’s investors, who originally expected to make tens of millions of dollars from the venture, said that they believe he had hundreds of gold coins secreted in a trust account for his children. At first, their search for the coins looked promising. Thompson pleaded guilty to contempt of court in April 2015, according to the Columbus Dispatch. He said the coins were in Belize and agreed to reveal their exact location.

But that didn’t happen.

Thompson’s attorney said last month that his client couldn’t remember who he gave the gold to, even after poring over thousands of pages of documents related to the treasure, according to the Dispatch.

A federal judge ruled that Thompson was faking memory problems, the newspaper reported, and has held him in an Ohio jail cell for a year.

Thompson could remain behind bars until he talks, the Associated Press reported, and is being fined $1,000 a day in the meantime.

“Who knows — he might have an epiphany,” U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley remarked Monday when he ordered Thompson to answer questions about the gold’s location.

But so far, the S.S. Central America’s treasure remains missing for the second time in two centuries.

And perhaps the only man able to find it remains as silent as the lost sailors of that old wreck.

December 14 at 12:01 PM

This Massive Shipwreck Graveyard Is Way Bigger Than Scientists Thought

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This Massive Shipwreck Graveyard Is Way Bigger Than Scientists Thought

Thursday 11:50am

An underwater survey off the coast of Greece has uncovered a massive cache of wrecked ships, sunk over a span of more than 2,000 years. And researchers just keep finding more and more to add to that tally.

In the nine months they’ve been swimming around Greece’s Fourni archipelago, the research team from The Fourni Underwater Survey has already found 45 individual shipwrecks in the 17-mile stretch. A whopping 23 of those shipwrecks were detailed in a new announcement from the teamissued today. Strangest of all, there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the age of the shipwrecks. The oldest dates back to around 500 BC, while the youngest is from around 1800.

To put the scale of the find in perspective, Peter Campbell of the University of Southampton and lead archaeologist on the project, points out that similar coastlines in the area only have a couple shipwrecks—and other similarly-sized finds have been spread across areas about 20 times as big.

“For comparison, many larger islands around the Mediterranean have only three or four known shipwrecks. The United States recently created a national marine sanctuary in Lake Michigan to protect 39 known shipwrecks located in 875 square miles,” Campbell noted in a statement. “Fourni has 45 known shipwrecks around its 17 square mile territory.”

And the team isn’t done adding to the total yet. There are two more years left in the investigation—and still several areas that divers haven’t even begun to explore. So researchers expect to find even more shipwrecks, from across different eras, as they investigate through 2018.

The message is clear: Stay away from the Fourni islands, sailor. Here be monsters.

All images by Vasilis Mentogianis / Fourni Underwater Survey

Roman Shipwreck Full of Treasures Found Off Israel

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Roman Shipwreck Full of Treasures Found Off Israel

Jay Bennett,Popular Mechanics 21 hours ago

The secrets of a lost Egyptian city were underwater

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The secrets of a lost Egyptian city were underwater

Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion are interesting to historians due to their location during a time of cultural cross-pollination. Key trading ports, they would receive boats from Greece and gradually developed an immigrant community, who built their own temples and worshiped their own gods.

Photos: A Medieval Trade Ship Revealed

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Photos: A Medieval Trade Ship Revealed

Colombia finds disputed ‘Holy Grail’ of shipwrecks

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DECEMBER 5, 2015

Colombia finds disputed ‘Holy Grail’ of shipwrecks

Read more here:

Colombia says it has found the San José Spanish galleon, which sank in 1708

The shipwreck is thought to be worth between $4 billion and $17 billion

U.S. based Sea Search Armada claims it found the wreck in 1981