Monday, August 10, 2009

WWII Shipwrecks Sought in 'Graveyard of the Atlantic'

A good study is Michael Gannon's "Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-Boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II" Harper & Row, 1990.

My grand-uncle Leman C. Urquhart, a Savannah, GA harbor pilot, Master Mariner, was the captain of the "S.S. City of Atlanta" when it was torpedoed off Diamond Shoals, Cape Hatteras, NC having left the New York City harbor, by U-123, one of the first commercial ships in our territorial waters cited in the chapter "Where Is the Navy?" in January of 1942 sunk in "Operation Drumbeat (Paukenschlag)". Of the 47 aboard only 3 survived, he not one. He is memorialized with others on the flagpole outside the North Head Church, on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada, where he was from.

Would appreciate any info this survey finds as will many others, and hope that the risk of explosives and dangerous torpedoes is documented that might threaten the "sport" dive community.

I guess they haven't been able to find "America's first submarine" the U.S. Navy's "Alligator" which I read might have been at Appomattox had the river not been so low. Maybe they're looking at all the bottom targets to see if it's among the "graveyard".

The "City of Atlanta" was built in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1903. I read they resisted propellers for propulsion because as side-wheelers they burned twice as much coal. Coal industry! I've been informed it had a screw propeller when it was sunk, perhaps refitted for coastal voyages, the picture shown to me at the National Maritime Historical Society's library at its launch perhaps.

I had been part of a report published by them in their quarterly magazine of two nearby centerboard sloop cargo hulks, left at the shore in today's New York State's Bear Mountain Park just below Revolutionary War Forts Montgomery and Clinton, near the underside of the Hudson River spanning, Bear Mountain Bridge. They appeared with masts on the rivers west shore in the background of a photo of a replica of Henry Hudson's "Half Moon" sailing by in the perhaps 325th anniversary of his voyage here. Today, the Popolopen Creek Suspension Footbridge crosses nearby the hulks which were investigated at the behest of the New York SHPO and recorded by myself and Grossman & Associates for the SHPO.

The again simple answer might be launched like that, once a coal powered side-wheeler it was converted to oil for coastal voyages. Or my recollection is wrong.

I'm reminded of "S.S. Savannah" built in NY-NJ the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic, leaving from Savannah, Georgia, later the side-wheel steam equipment removed, it sank in a storm off Fire Island, New York, after refitted to sail only.

Also the P2 class troop carriers of WWII, my grandfather served on the U.S.S. Buckner, they were cut in half (like the M.S. Mount Washington in New Hampshire also) and a section added to the middle of the ship to make them carry a complete particular division of US Marines, he once related. A P2 propeller from a troop carrier stands outside the Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy's museum on Long Island, and can be seen from the various online public aerial mapping services.

One can also can be seen, one of the four, from the S.S. United States a large propeller outdoors on exhibit at the New York State Maritime College at Fort Schuyler, across the bay. I think it still holds the record for crossing the Atlantic.

- posted to subarch

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