Sunken WWII Navy Patrol Boat Found
Photo mosaic of YP-389, sunk off North Carolina by a German submarine on June 19, 1942. It was found and photographed in a 2009 expedition.
Credit: NOAA

A U.S. Navy patrol boat sunk during WWII has been found and photographed 20 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The wreck of the YP-389, a converted fishing trawler, rests in about 300 feet of water in a region known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," where several U.S. and British naval vessels, merchant ships, and German U-boats sunk during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Six sailors died when the YP-389 was attacked by a German submarine June 19, 1942. There were 18 survivors.

The research mission was led by NOAA.

The relatively intact remains of the YP-389 rest upright on the ship's keel, NOAA said in a statement this week. The wreck site is home to a variety of marine life. Much of the outer-hull plating has fallen away, leaving only the intact frames exposed.

"She rests now like a literal skeleton, a reminder of a time long ago when the nation was at war," said Joseph Hoyt, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary archaeologist and principal investigator for the project.

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Built originally as a fishing trawler, the YP-389 was converted into a coastal patrol craft and pressed into service after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The ship was equipped with one 3-inch deck gun to protect the ship from enemy aircraft and surfaced submarines and two .30-caliber machine guns. However, on the day of the attack by the German submarine U-701, the ship's deck gun was inoperative, and the YP-389 could return fire only with its machine guns.

"The story of the YP-389 personifies the character of the Battle of the Atlantic along the East Coast of the United States, where small poorly armed fishing trawlers were called to defend American waters against one of Germany's most feared vessels," said David W. Alberg, expedition leader and superintendent of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. "It is one of the most dramatic accounts of an engagement between Axis and Allied warships during the dark days of World War II."