Skip to comments.Nazi U-Boat found off coast of Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ, in 1991, USA and Germany had No records
Posted on 07/25/2004 1:28:47 PM PDT by Coleus
An unidentified German submarine was discovered on September 2, 1991 by John Chatterton in 230 feet of water 65 miles east of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. It was known from the beginning that it was a submarine, but records did not indicate that a U-boat was sunk in the New Jersey area. Divers explored the wreck but no artifacts were recovered on this first trip. A total of four dive trips were made by Chatterton during 1991. During a second trip, a diver died on the wreck and was swept away. A few artifacts were recovered, but none gave a clue as to the identity of the submarine. The third boat trip produced may items, some confirming the German origin. Speculation that the U-boat was the U.869 began after researching a knife found on the fourth trip. John Chatterton found the knife with a crew members name inscribed in the handle. Records showed that the sailor served on the U.869.
Positive proof was found late in 1996 when tags bearing the U.869 numbers were found. These tags may have been used to attach to spare parts so they may be returned to the proper submarine after service.
The hull sits upright in the sand and is intact with the exception of the conning tower. It is laying in the sand next to the hull. One theory is the U-boat fired a torpedo which malfunctioned and turned back to the submarine. There is massive damage in the area of the conning tower. Another large hole is in the aft section. This submarine is an advanced technical wreck dive.
from the Final Report on the Location and Identification of the World War II German Submarine U-869 by John Chatterton, Richard Kohler, and John Yurga ( March 1, 1998. )
The information contained in this report was developed by the authors over a six year period with the assistance of numerous other divers, historians, and war veterans. This information positively identifies the wreck of a submarine located approximately sixty miles off the New Jersey coast at 39 34' North Latitude, 73? 02' West Longitude, as the World War II German Submarine U-869. The U-869 was built at the Deschimag shipyard in Bremen and commissioned into the German Navy on January 26, 1944.
Prior to this date, it has been universally agreed that the U-869 was sunk in action at 34? 30' North Latitude, 8? 30' North Longitude, by the US Destroyer Escort Fowler and the French Submarine Chaser L'Indiscret on February 28, 1945. The reported sinking of the U-869 at this location off Gibraltar is incorrect.
On September 2, 1991 the late Captain Bill Nagle and John Chatterton led a team of experienced amateur shipwreck divers on an expedition to explore an unknown wreck at a site approximately 60 miles east of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. This site was originally suggested to Captain Nagle by a local fishing boat captain who was curious about the site he had been fishing for years. Although several experienced offshore fishermen were discretely fishing the site, it was relatively unknown, and had never before been visited by divers.
Upon descending to the wreck, divers discovered what appeared to be the remains of a submarine in approximately 230 feet ( 77 meters ) of salt water. The general appearance was that of a World War II era wreck. On subsequent dives it was discovered that there were human remains aboard the wreck.
Cursory research of area charts and historical records gave no clue as to the wreck's identity. In only a short time the submarine was confirmed to be a World War II German U-boat. It was relatively easy to rule out the possibility that the wreck was one of the two U-boats reportedly lost in the region. The reported sinking of the U-550 ( approximately 150 miles north and east of the dive site on April 16, 1944 ) and that of the U-521 ( approximately 110 miles south of the dive site on March 17, 1943 ) were well documented with submarine survivors. The possibility that the wreck we had located at 39? 34' North Latitude, 73? 02' West Longitude, was either the U-521 or the U-550 was virtually impossible.
The identity of the wreck was indeed a mystery. The divers nicknamed the wreck the "U-Who" and actively sought to identify the submarine and the men whose remains were still aboard.
Physical Evidence from the Site
from the Final Report on the Location and Identification of the World War II German Submarine U-869 by John Chatterton, Richard Kohler, and John Yurga ( March 1, 1998 )
Item #1: On September 29, 1991, diver John Chatterton recovered intact crockery bowls marked with the eagle and swastika and dated 1942. These items were located aft on the port side of the non-commissioned officers' quarters. The bowl in these photographs currently is in the possession of the family of Martin Horenburg, the late Funkmeister of the radio room on the U-869.
Bottom of bowl
Bottom of bowl ( close-up )
Item #2: On November 6, 1991, again from the port side of the Non-Commissioned Officers Quarters, a stainless steel dinner knife with a wooden handle was recovered.
In the handle was carved a name, "Horenburg".
This artifact is currently in the possession of the relatives of Martin Horenburg,
the late Funkmeister of the radio room on the U-869.
They made more trips that year. . But soon they began working together instinctively, not just in the water but as historians -- in Washington D.C., in London, in Germany -- all to solve a mystery that governments couldn't budge.
They burrowed deeper into history and discovered that books and official records were flat-out wrong. They would not relent until they pulled irrefutable proof of the U-boat's identity from the wreck.
In 1991, a group of weekend scuba divers, brought to a spot in the Atlantic Ocean where it was said that fish could be found in abundance -- often a hint of a shipwreck below -- were stunned to find the sunken, rusting remains of a German submarine just 65 miles from Point Pleasant.
But naval records could not document the presence of a U-boat within more than 150 miles of the site. Except for some china plates engraved with the Nazi swastika, there were no identifying marks on the sub. And as for what happened to the sunken warship, the ghosts of the doomed crew still entombed inside the dark hull were not talking.
What brought the men together was a discovery that still amazes historians - a World War II German U-boat sunk only 60 miles off the coast of the Jersey Shore.
The author walks the fine line between praising the dead nazis and telling the story of their lives.
A tremendous amount of research at great expense went into thi book.
LOL....no I'm not related to anyone in the story!!!
"Erwunchte Tiefe erreicht, Herr Kaleun!"
I thought this sounded familiar...this was covered on PBS's NOVA as "Hitler's Lost Sub".
Met a former adventure diver who dove with Sheck Exley on a few U boats. He was working as the engineer on this liveaboard I was on in Australia. He was with a group that found a U boat that was uncharted, strange thing though, the hull was completely clean and shiney, and there was no coral or plant life anywhere near the ship. It was sealed, and they tried to get a hatch opened to get the registration number. After they dove it, they got a visit from a navy boat, and were told to get the hell out of the area, the navy knew all about the U boat, as it was full of mercury and was dangerous as hell. They got the heck out of there, in a hurry.
Another great diving book is called "The Last Dive" by Bernie Chowhudry. About a father and son who died trying to ID a U boat. They made the mistake of diving with regular air, rather than tri-mix and got narc'd out at depth, got confused, couldn't find their second tank and had to come up without decompressing or run out of air. The father died instantly, his blood eseentially turned into foam, the son died after a few hours in a chamber.
Interesting. Sounds like either a surface vessel grazed her while she was submerging or a depth charge popped a faulty weld where the pressure hull and conning tower join.
Kurson mentioned that only weeks ago the movie rights were signed.
Wonder what hollyweird will do to this story.
This sounds like the father son team in this story. Didn't realize a book had been written about them.
U-Boat Bump. There was a story recwntly about a U-Boat found close in off the Canadian shore.
"Aces of the Deep." There's a blast from the past! Dated but still the best U-Boat sim out there.
I'm reading "Shadow Divers" right now - it is great. I actually know some of the people (Steve Bielienda, who is not treated kindly) and I also know Bernie. I think I'll settle for pics of the wreck, however - I'd rather be in Cayman.
That was a very large submarine - almost 300 feet? - thats pretty big for a WWII sub, no?
Wasn't this the subject of a PBS show last year? Extremely interesting. The sister of someone on that UBoat lives in NJ, and the man who found the boat paid her a visit and gave her stuff he'd retrieved with her brother's name on it. She'd had no idea all these years what had happened to him.
I dive every few months, and do Nitrox, but the deepest I've been is 140 feet in Cozumel, I have no need or desire to do any decomp dives. I am addicted to Nitrox, I did a few dives on 39% Oxygen in Vietnam, and it was a nice high, and I didn't need to sleep off the rest of the day!
Thta's what I was thinking. However the reviews for the book have very postive.
LOL. Been hanging around the duck pond too much?
I watched that show. I didn't fall asleep. That's my criteria for interesting TV.
U534 a type IXC/40 Second World War U-boat is on display with the Warship Preservation Trust's collection in Birkenhead, Merseyside
Maybe they had an encounter with the Mothership?
uboat.net - Special Sections - Myth and Stories
U-boats loaded with Mercury
The story often surfaces that this or that U-boat had mercury ballast (as much as 200 tons). They upshot would be that using Mercury would enable the engineers to stabilize the boat in an instant.
Mercury is an extremely expensive metal and the cost to ballast one U-boat would be more than to construct 5 new ones. It was thus never used to ballast any U-boat. However, two U-boats did in fact carry Mercury in place of at least part of its ballast, the former was the U-234 that surrendered to the US in May, 1945 with a $5 million worth of Mercury in flasks. The other was the U-859 that had Mercury on board when it was sunk in 1944 near Penang. The metal was for Japan and was salvaged in the sixties, probably 32 tons. U-862 possibly had some Mercury in flasks too.
Could be, but when you have spent 18 hours diving with 5 dives and you can finally drink beer, you will listen to any story!