In 2004, researchers from across North America came together to investigate six World War II-era shipwrecks discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. The science team included marine archaeologists, microbiologists, marine vertebrate and invertebrate zoologists, a molecular biologist, an oceanographer, remotely operated vehicle technicians, and professional marine surveyors. The US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Ocean Exploration and Research sponsored this multidisciplinary project under the auspices of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. The organizational involvement included six universities, two nonprofit organizations, three commercial companies, and three federal agencies. All six vessels studied were casualties of World War II. Each was found during modern oil and gas surveys in water depths ranging from 87 to 1,964 meters. Today, these wrecks function as artificial reefs. Their well-documented sinking dates offer biologists a unique opportunity to study the “artificial reef effect” of manmade structures in deep water. Historically, these sites represent an underwater battlefield and a vital historical resource documenting a little-studied area of world history. They preserve information vital to scholarly and popular understanding of the impact of World War II in the Gulf of Mexico, on the American home front, and in the wider world.
Church, R.A., D.J. Warren, and J.B. Irion. 2009. Analysis of deepwater shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico: Artificial reef effect of Six World War II shipwrecks. Oceanography 22(2):50–63, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.38.
Administrator of the Committee on Vessel Compensation (ACVC). 1945. S.S. Robert E. Lee and S.S. George Washington: Eastern Steamship Lines, Inc.: Determination of Just Compensation for Loss and Requisition of Title. Report prepared by the Committee on Vessel Compensation.
Ballard, R.D. 2004. Why is the Titanic vanishing? National Geographic, December 2004:96–113.
Ballard, R.D., and R. Archbold. 1987. The Discovery of the Titanic. Warner Books, New York, NY, 288 pp.
Browning, R.M., Jr. 1996. U.S. Merchant Vessel War Casualties of World War II. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 575 pp.
Burch, H.A. 1942a. Summary of Statements by Survivors of the SS Virginia, American Tanker. US Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. May 16, 1942.
Burch, H.A. 1942b. Summary of Statements by Survivors of the SS Gulf Penn, U.S. Tanker. US Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. May 22, 1942.
Charlton, M.J. 2003. Interview by M.K. Morgan at Mr. Charlton’s home, Monroe, LA, January 31, 2003.
Church, R.A. 2000. Archaeological, Engineering and Hazard Study, Block 705, Mississippi Canyon Area to Block 115, Grand Isle Area. Prepared by C & C Technologies Inc. for Pogo Producing Company. September 2000.
Church, R.A., L. Landry, D.J. Warren, and J. Smith. 2003. The SS Alcoa Puritan: Deepwater discovery and investigation. Paper presented at the Underwater Intervention Conference, February 10–12, 2003, New Orleans, LA.
Church, R., D. Warren, R. Cullimore, L. Johnston, W. Schroeder, W. Patterson, T. Shirley. M. Kilgour, N. Morris, and J. Moore. 2007. Archaeological and Biological Analysis of World War II Shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico: Artificial Reef Effect in Deep Water. US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service (MMS), Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, New Orleans, LA. OCS study MMS 2007-015, 387 pp. Available online at: http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/regulate/environ/deepenv.html (accessed March 30, 2009).
Conwell, D.M. 1986. Sea-Going Days, Part Two. Personal Memoir of D.M. Conwell. C & C Technologies Inc. Maritime Archaeology Library, Lafayette, LA.
Cullimore, D.R., and L. Johnston. 2000. The impact of bioconcretious structures (rusticles) on the RMS Titanic: Implications to maritime steel structures. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, Vancouver, Canada.
Cullimore, D.R., and L. Johnston. 2005. Microbiology of concretions, sediments and mechanisms influencing the preservation of submerged archaeological artifacts. Paper presented at the 38th Annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, January 6, 2005, York, England.
Cullimore, D.R., C. Pellegrino, and L. Johnston. 2001. RMS Titanic and the emergence of new concepts on consortial nature of microbial events. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 173:117–141.
Henderson, E.D. 1942. Summary of statements by survivors of the SS Robert E. Lee, U.S. Cargo-Passenger Vessel. US Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. August 13, 1942.
Hocking, C. 1969. Dictionary of Disasters at Sea During the Age of Steam: Including Sailing Ships and Ships of War Lost in Action, 1824–1962. Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, 438 pp.
IME (International Marine Engineering). 1919. Oil Tank Steamer of 10,100 Tons D.W. International Marine Engineering 24(4):196–197 and Plate III. Simmons-Boardman Publishing Co., NY.
Landry, L. 1994. Archaeological Assessment for the Nakika Pipeline Project. Report prepared by John E. Chance and Associates for Shell International Exploration and Production, Inc. December 1994.
Marine Engineering and Shipping Review. 1941. Cargo Ship Alcoa Pathfinder. Marine Engineering and Shipping Review 46(11):106, 147.
Michell, A. 2001. Telephone interview by R.A. Church, August 14, 2001, and at Captain Michell’s home, New Orleans, LA, August 24, 2001.
Michell, A. 2004. Interview by R.A. Church and D. Aig at Captain Michell’s home, New Orleans, LA, October 16, 2004.
Miller, D. 2000. U-Boats: History, Development and Equipment, 1914–1945. Conway Maritime Press, London, 208 pp.
Minerals Management Service. 2007. Archaeological and Biological Analysis of World War II Shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico: Artificial Reef Effect in Deep Water. MMS Study 2007-015, 5 pp. Available online at: www.gomr.mms.gov/PI/PDFImages/ESPIS/4/4240.pdf (accessed April 2, 2009).
Moore, A.R. 1983. A Careless Word…A Needless Sinking: A History of the Staggering Losses Suffered by the U.S. Merchant Marine in Both Ships and Personnel, During World War II, 6th ed. American Merchant Marine Museum, Kings Point, NY, 705 pp.
Peterson, G. 2003. Interview by F. Beierl and O. Halmburger at the National D-Day Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 10, 2003. Shown in “History Uncovered: Legend of U-166.” History Channel. December 19, 2004.
Powers, A.J. 1942a. Summary of Statements by Survivors of the SS Halo, American Tanker. US Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. June 19, 1942.
Powers, A.J. 1942b. Summary of Statements by Survivors of the SS Alcoa Puritan, American Freighter. US Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. May 12, 1942.
Prior, D.B., E.H. Doyle, M.J. Kaluza, and M.M. Woods. 1988. Technical advances in high-resolution hazard surveying, deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Pp. 108–117 in Offshore Technology Proceedings. May 2–5, 1988, Houston, TX.
Rössler, E. 2001. The U-boat: The Evolution and Technical History of German Submarines. Arms and Armour Press, London, reprint, 384 pp.
Sawyer, L.A., and W.H. Mitchell. 1974. Victory Ships and Tankers: The History of the “Victory” Type Cargo Ships and of the Tankers Built in the United States of America During World War II. Cornell Maritime Press, Inc., Cambridge, England, 230 pp.
Talbot-Booth, E.C. 1942. Merchant Ships. The Macmillan Company, New York, NY, ~500 pp.
USDI MMS. 2002. The Alcoa Puritan. Society for Historical Archaeology Newsletter 35(1):24–25.
USS PC-566. 1942. Report of Action with Enemy Submarine Which Torpedoed SS Robert E. Lee, Rescue of Survivors. Statements by H. C. Claudius and K. Howard. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
War Diary. 1942. Oberkommando Kriegsmarine Kriegstagebuch, Akten betreffend U-166, from March 24 through August 3, 1942. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
Warren, D.J., R.A. Church, R. Cullimore, and L. Johnston. 2004. ROV Investigations of The DKM U-166 Shipwreck Site to Document the Archaeological and Biological Aspects of the Wreck Site: Final Performance Report. US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean Exploration. Silver Spring, Maryland, 45 pp.
Winnier, J. 2003. Interview by F. Beierl and O. Halmburger at the National World War II Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 2003. Shown in “History Uncovered: Legend of U-166.” History Channel. December 19, 2004.
Winnier, J. 2004. Interview by R.A. Church and D. Aig at Mr. J. Winnier’s home, New Orleans, LA, October 16, 2004.
Würdemann, E. 1942. War-Diary. Oberkommando Kriegsmarine Kriegstagebuch, Akten betreffend U-506, from March 26, 1942, through June 16, 1942. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.