Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Expedition reveals video of Nazi U-boat in Gulf of Mexico

A diving expedition in the Gulf of Mexico just south of the Mississippi River has produced stunning new images of one of Hitler's U-boats from World War II.

Some people might be surprised that the Nazis got so close to American soil.

On July 30, 1942, a U.S. Navy* escort vessel destroyed the U-boat, U-166, after it attacked and sank the SS Robert E. Lee about 25 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi. The Lee, a freighter, was delivering hundreds of survivors of other U-boat attacks to New Orleans. Twenty-five passengers and crewmen aboard the ship were killed. Another 404 survived. The German submarine was sunk with no survivors. Its wreck is protected as a war grave for the 52 crewmen who died. Both vessels lie about 5,000 feet below the surface.

"Most people don't realize that during World War II, America really was under siege," National World War II Museum curator Tom Czekanski told WWLTV.

The new images of the sub and the freighter were captured by an underwater expedition led by Dr. Bob Ballard of Ocean Exploration Trust. Ballard is perhaps best known for being credited with discovering the wreck of the Titanic.

"Hitler brought the war to our doorstep shortly after they declared war on us," Ballard said.

"Over 20 U-boats operated in the Gulf of Mexico and over 70 ships were sunk off the Gulf of Mexico in 1942 and 1943," Czekanski said.

Ballard's team, aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus, was conducting forensic archaeological documentation and surveys of the U-boat and related shipwrecks to better understand how they met their fate. Many of these wreck sites have not been documented in any detail, so the team on board conducted high resolution mapping in addition to visual surveys to create 3-D images of the wreck sites for further analysis.

* This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: The Nazi submarine U-166 was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico on July 30, 1942, by the Robert E. Lee's escort ship, USS PC-566, which was a U.S. Navy vessel. Historical accounts included in an earlier version of this story incorrectly credited the Coast Guard.

Nazis off the coast

View the images captured by the crew of the EV Nautilus at You can learn more about the expedition at

Expedition reveals video of Nazi U-boat in Gulf of Mexico 07/16/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 10:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders


    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Forecast: Soggy, yet hot, workweek ahead across Tampa Bay


    A soggy workweek is ahead across Tampa Bay as decent chances for scattered storms remain consistent over the next several days.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Travel ban, Kennedy retirement speculation the focus as Supreme Court prepares for break


    WASHINGTON — Before taking their long summer break, the Supreme Court justices are poised to act on the Trump administration's travel ban and a separation of church and state dispute involving a Missouri church playground.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, shown in 2007, has given no public sign that he would step down this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy's departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: Guns, charter schools, drug education and more


    HOSTILE WORK PLACE: A legal review determines that while a University of South Florida technology center former director might have been boorish and hostile, …

  5. Fire crews battle blaze at apartment complex near Seminole Heights


    Fire crews are battling a blaze that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment complex near Seminole Heights, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.