How this got started:
As I thought of topics for this project, the map seemed to be a natural springboard to developing this website. The first thing that struck me as I began to investigate this map, was it was taken from a National Geographic article written back in September of 1969 (see below). I was amazed how long ago this map was constructed and nothing more recent had been written.My first task was to carefully begin the process of going over the map (with a magnifying glass since my eyes aren't what they used to be) and begin to document the ships in a spreadsheet. I have begun to search for further information, as indicated in the list of those with yes next to found information. I then purchased the book, Graveyard of the Atlantic: Shipwrecks of the North Carolina Coast, by David Stick. This book was written in 1951, which was incredible how long ago the book was published. The National Geographic article was based on David Stick's research. It has a great listing in the back of the book which will aid me in my research. I've also found several diving websites, which I'll include links to later on, that have aided me in my discovery of sunken ships. The thing that struck me the most so far was the number of ships that were sunk off the cost by German U-boats during WW II.
As I continued with this project:
As I moved along with my project, the idea of creating interactive websites was an area that I wanted to continue to move ahead on. As the site becomes more detailed I'm hoping to dress it up a bit more. I contacted Paul Hudy, www.nc-wreckdiving.com, who has some good photo shots and information regarding wrecks of the NC coast to ask permission to use some of his photos on this site. I got the ok from him and it just so happens he is a U of D graduate (1975)! Small world!
A long break and now back to work:
I began the process of trying to map the locations of these lost ships. After further research, I discovered two great books, Shipwrecks of North Carolina from the Diamond Shoals North and Shipwrecks of North Carolina from Hatteras Inlet South by Gary Gentile. There is some great information and photos of ships lost off the North Carolina coast contained within his books.
I decided that I wanted to attempt to plot the location of each ship based on information in these books. I purchased DeLorme Topo US software to locate these ships. However, in the books, it indicates locations by Loran-C. What the heck is Loran-C? LORAN-C was originally developed to provide radio navigation service for U.S. coastal waters and was later expanded to include complete coverage of the continental U.S. as well as most of Alaska. Twenty-four U.S. LORAN-C stations work in partnership with Canadian and Russian stations to provide coverage in Canadian waters and in the Bering Sea. LORAN-C provides better than 0.25 nautical mile absolute accuracy for suitably equipped users within the published areas. Users can return to previously determined positions with an accuracy of 50 meters or better using LORAN-C in the time difference repeatable mode. Advances in technology have allowed greater automation of LORAN-C operations.
New technology has allowed the Coast Guard to establish centralized control of the continental U.S. LORAN-C system at two locations. The application of new receiver technology has improved the usability of the system. So now I needed to find how do you convert LORAN-C to latitude and longitude. I did a Google search and found two programs available. One is a program offered by USCG, Positioning Aid 2.1a. It is a DOS-based program which took me a little while to figure out how to use it. The other was Manav, a shareware program, which reportedly isn't as accurate as of the Coast Guard software.
Once I was able to enter the LORAN-C coordinates and get latitude and longitude, I plugged this information into Topo US and create a map with coordinates, such as the one on the Ashkhabad web page.
As I mentioned previously, I'm amazed by the number of ships sunk due to U-boat activity off the North Carolina coast in 1942.
As I began to do further research I came across several websites, www.uboat.net, www.ubootwaffe.net, and www.navsource.org which has been extremely helpful in finding information about U-boats. Another site I hit upon when I was researching about the Ciltvaria mentioned about a NY Times article. I then got one of those "lightbulb" moments and went onto the U of D library website and did a search of NY Times archives. I have begun to find some articles and photos dating back to the time of the sinkings! I think I've created a monster!
As I continue my work on this website, I'm finding that my project is only a starting point. There is so much information I will continue to develop this site over the coming months. The way I'm constructing this website is best described, at least in my mind, as a constantly weaving pattern of ideas. What I mean by this is I have started with one sunken ship, i.e. the Ashkhabab, and researched information related to this sinking. In this example, it took me to the U-402 and I researched information related to the history of this U-boat.
So what started off in a small gift shop in the Outer Banks has now created an adventure to find and explore more about the history of those ships lost off the coast. After purchasing several books on this topic (hey, who said it was cheap!) I've grown more fascinated about the topic. The area that has struck me as I continued my research is the lives that were lost. I'm interested to learn about the history of those who served on those ships and were lost at sea. I left this website neglected for a number of years. With my retirement, I plan on dusting off the cobwebs and dust to expand the information on this website.