The U-Who?

In the fall of 1991, Captain Bill Nagle of the dive boat "Seeker" led a team of recreational scuba divers on an expedition to explore an unknown wreck site 60 miles off the New Jersey coast. Nagle discovered the resting place of a World War II German U-boat, a wartime loss with the 56 man crew still aboard. Inquires to the both the German and American Naval Authorities failed to identify or explain the presence of this mystery U-boat. No attacks by or against a U-boat had been reported in this location during the war and no explanations were offered.

Over the next six years, a small team of divers explored the wreckage. Their mission: to figure out which U-boat this was and who these men were. The diving was extremely deep (230 feet) and hazardous, and sadly three of the divers died while investigating the U-boat. Despite these losses, my partner John Chatterton and I continued to dive to the limits of the current scuba technology, even after other divers had quit. Finally, in 1997, a team effort by John Chatterton, John Yurga, Pat Rooney and I discovered the evidence that conclusively identified the submarine as U-869.

For most divers, this was the end; the wreckage had been identified and history rewritten. But for me it was only half the story. I began meeting with families of the crew, and visiting their hometowns. They shared their memories and photographs with me, and I began to understand who the men of U-869 were and what their lives had been like. The details of the discovery and identification of the U-boat were documented in a two hour NOVA program, "Hitler's Lost Sub", and in a new book"Shadow Divers" by Robert Kurson.