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8:11 am
Thu July 24, 2014

New Footage Of Sunken WWII Vessels In Gulf

A side-scan sonar image of the German U-boat U-166 in 2001, on the Gulf floor approximately 50 miles southeast of New Orleans.
A side-scan sonar image of the German U-boat U-166 in 2001, on the Gulf floor approximately 50 miles southeast of New Orleans.
Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Scientists are getting a crystal-clear look at two historic vessels almost a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pictures were taken from a pair of mini-subs tethered to explorer Robert Ballard’s vessel — the Nautilus.

They show small holes in a lifeboat that may have gone down with a passenger ship sunk in 1942 by a Nazi submarine. Or, it may have been scuttled after passengers and crew were rescued.

Interpretations differ.

The pictures are among the brightest and clearest ever taken of the Robert E. Lee and the U-166, which was sunk by depth charges from the Lee's escort on July 30, 1942.

The U-166 was among dozens of German U-boats that menaced U.S. shipping during World War II in an operation Germany code-named "Drumbeat."

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