From Mark Munro, U-550 Expedition Leader:
This particular endeavor began for me during the winter of 2009-2010, when I initiated my research into the sinking of the German submarine, or U-boat, the U-550. On April 16th, 1944, after torpedoing the T3 tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania, the U-550 was sunk approximately 75 miles south of Nantucket Massachusetts by three Destroyer Escorts. Her final resting place has yet to be positively identified. I began my research into this event for the express purpose of conducting an expedition to find and verify the location of the U-550. After reviewing the considerable amount of information available on the internet, I traveled to the National Archives In Washington, DC and Maryland to review original source documents such as log books and war reports. These documents gave me a deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the U-550 but not enough to narrow down the probable area of her sinking. I then contacted a physical oceanographer who, using four years of drift buoy data, used the known position of the SS Pan Pennsylvania’s wreck site to hind cast the likely location of the U-550. The next step was to use fishing dragger’s hang logs, recorded geographic positions where fishing draggers have caught their nets on the sea bed, to locate the likely resting places of the U-550. In the summer of 2010 using the results of my extensive research, I led a four day expedition in an attempt to positively identify the U-550’s final resting place. During this excursion we confirmed the location of the SS Pan Pennsylvania wreck site as well as locating several targets within our search area; however we were unsuccessful in finding the U-550.
Unfortunately, in 2011 our team was unable to conduct a subsequent expedition to search for the U-550, this allowed my research to expand into the human side of the historical narrative. To date I have contacted seventeen sailors from the USS Gandy, USS Peterson, and USS Joyce, the Destroyer Escorts who participated in the sinking of the U-550. On September 11th of 2011, John Anderson of Terramar Productions and I traveled to a Destroyer Escort reunion in Pennsylvania to interview three DE sailors from the USS Gandy and USS Peterson. These hour long videotaped interviews, which delved into the lives of these sailors, deepened my admiration and true appreciation for the considerable sacrifices made by these WWII veterans and ultimately clarified the “big picture” of this historical event. It was at this time that I was very touched by these “True American Heroes” and dedicated myself to documenting their war time experiences.
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