On April 28, 1944, a German E-boat sank two U.S. ships participating in training exercises for the Normandy invasion — a largely unknown incident that claimed the lives of 749 American soldiers and sailors. A robotic sub recently captured the most detailed images yet taken of the wrecks.
It was called Exercise Tiger, a training exercise involving some 30,000 American troops consisting of infantry, artillery, engineers, medical personnel, tank battalions and support staff. The drills took place on the South Devon coast at Slapton Sands, an area chosen for its resemblance to Utah Beach.
Image: Ted Archer's 1995 depiction of the event.
In the early hours of April 28, eight tank landing ships (LSTs) were making their way in when they came under attack by a flotilla of nine German E-boats. By the time it was over, two ships had been sunk (LST531 and LST507), while two other ships damaged by torpedos limped back to port.
But the survivors were sworn to secrecy. The Allies feared that if any information leaked to the Germans, plans for the D-Day Landings would be jeopardized. The public did not know about the incident until 1974 when the details were declassified. To this day, the incident remains largely obscure.
Now, in anticipation of Exercise Tiger's 70th anniversary, a Massachusetts-based company called Hydroid has captured the first high-definition sonar images of the two U.S. ships that were sunk.
The autonomous undersea vehicle recorded the images about 165 feet (50 meters) beneath the surface of the English Channel. Divers have accessed the site before, but the sub provided the best quality images yet, including one showing a boat's upturned stern.
[ AP ]