tv U- Boats off the U.S. Coast During World War II CSPAN November 22, 2021 12:49pm-1:11pm EST
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ii on america's doorstep, u boats, i represent noaa, the federal agencies earrings national oceanic administration. and the monitor is just one of 15 national sanctuaries, and of sanctuaries in the system. it covers waters from florida state to the florida keys and from america to samoa. we represent the north sanctuary off the coast of california which you can see with the arrow. we are located about 16 miles off the cape of coast hatteras, north carolina, and we're 240 feet of water with-- where the labrador and gulf stream coasts collide. we're very proud to be working to tell the story of the uss
monitor. what is the uss monitor? it's a basically strange cheese box in a raft that was the first of its kind of a prototype and was designed specifically for warfare to fight the css virginia in the civil war. you can see it is a strange-looking vessel, but this is the days of cannonballs and cannon fire. it was purposely very low to the water, not giving the enemy very much to hit, so you just had a little pilot light up forward, which is the little strange square box to the bow that you see on the right side, to that rotating gun turret. that rotating gun turret is the first working rotating gun turret in the world and it truly is one of the most modern today. you can see how both vessels are very low-lying to the water.
again, the virginia, which is sort of in the background, has got sloping sides where cannonballs would bounce off. this was done on purpose, fairly aligned to the water, and to the left of it, again, a much different profile. strange-looking vessel with that little rotating turret, again, very low to the water, and this is the first time these two types of vessels have come face to face in warfare. this occurred very famously in hampton rhodes which is in new half ton and norfolk. this is the first clash of the ironclads, the first time these iron worships come head to head. eight hours of 1962, the css virginia attacked the entire fleet, taking four vessels, transferring the transport and damaging four other warships. the structure behind attacked more than 100 wounded. it was the worst in navy defeat
in pearl harbor. in contrast, the two groups suffered only two casualties and a dozen wounded. this evening, the uss monitor arrives after coming down from new york where it was built and encountered a carnage with the navy. they went next to the grounded uss minnesota, wooden sided, and got it ready for battle that was sure to come the next day. confident in the previous day's victory, they launched 1,000 yards out with the uss minnesota. protecting the minnesota, the modern equipment was moved next to the virginia. the two traded shots with one another at point blank range but doing no significant damage. each ship tried to ram the other. each commander tried to find a weak spot. through it all, the minnesota remained afloat. only an iron ship could stop
another iron ship. the battle that took place that day left neither the monitor nor the virginia seriously damaged and both sides claimed victory. ultimately historians call it the battle of draw. in fact, there was one clear winner, the age when warships went over. sadly, the uss monitor sinks with less than a year afloat. on december 29th, 1862, the monitor was sent to join the blockading forces of north and south carolina. it departed hampton roads. you can see in the background it's a paddle wheeler. on december 30 of 1862, it encounters a storm off cape hatteras. on december 31st, the next night, modern battles stay afloat, and that evening the monitor goes down for the last time with the loss of 16 officers and crew. now, the vessel was discovered
initially in 1974 and the announcement was made between duke university and the u.s. navy that discovered it. in 1965, it became the first monitor sanctuary. maybe you remember in the early 2000s that we recovered major portions of the vessel including that rotating gun turret, the first in the history of the world, this gigantic naval innovation which is now undergoing conservation with our partner at newport news, virginia. but what that will loud it to do was now to look further afield of the monitor shipwreck. here it is just last year what it looked like on the sea floor, but after all this work we've done on monitor, the archeology, the conservation, the artifact recoveries, the exhibits for the public, it allows us to look at the other shipwrecks surrounding the monitor at north carolina, and there are literally thousands. we're very excited to be telling
these stories, one of which is world war ii. the story we're telling through all of these shipwrecks here is really the story of america's rise as a superpower, and quite simply, it's a story of the united states. so the uss monitor, for example, was the first turbid iron hold warship whose design changed navy warfare forever and we had the technology to build this ship that was the first in the world. these battleships tell the story of the naval power with roosevelt's great white fleet which they participated in around the world, and their sinking from captain naval ships to warfare. after their life span where they were in world war i, they were actually decommissioned and used as target vessels, or general
von mitchell used the invention to drop bombs on these battleships to prove that the small little mosquito could indeed sink some of the most powerful weapons of any nation afloat. this is a huge transition now. we're moving from these battleships to carrier warfare. these stories and these wrecks helped tell the story from isolation, the player on the world stage, to go to europe on our allied forces. of course, the most prominent shipwrecks we'll be visiting. these shipwrecks stored america's rise of power in the world and their status remains today. what we have here is the naval battlefield of north carolina as both world war i and world war ii came home to america. it's where we had some defeats and celebrated our first victories. as we all well know, it began in
the united states. the military's casualties total 2100 killed with more than half aboard the uss arizona. a lot of people don't realize this, but it wasn't until four days later that the access powers, italy and germany, actually declared war against the united states. that happened on december 11. it is a little known historical fact that even though the germans and the japanese were allies, they didn't necessarily share all the information together, so even though they knew the japanese would be attacking them at some point, just like us, they were caught a little unaware in the war of decorations. you really need to look at this map to understand what kind of war the united states entered. again, this isn't news to any of you, of course, watching this, but it was a global war. and it's amazing to see how the
united states was able to project its military prowess in the far pacific and the far atlantic over europe and africa as well as asia. it's astounding. so it literally shows how battles were fought on literally the other side of the planet. it's the most complex event ever undertaken in the united states and the sheer logistics to move personnel and material around the world is mind-boggling. again, when we talk about the battle of the atlantic, look at the shipping routes, because the germans knew very well where that war material was coming from, and it was coming over the bay and they needed to stop it. so a month after germany's war in america, the first war started on the east coast. operation drumbeat continued for months as germany hunted for ships that went away at night. with the start of the war, the united states had two sub chasers to patrol the coast
while also having ships across the atlantic which had deadly consequences for shipping. this shipping is what supplied the convoys that would resupply .he effort in europe.euro this coastal shipping was the lifeblood for allied forces. germany knew by cutting that off, they could strangle the allies into submission. when we look at that continental shelf and how close it comes to the outer banks in north carolina, this was the key point of such a high concentration of shipwrecks there. what the germans would do is basically in the daytime, hide in that deeper water just off the continental shelf where it was much more difficult to discover them, then at night, in the cover of darkness, they would come closer into land, go to those very well-known shipping lanes and attack those convoys quite easily. this is an overlay in gis maps.
the same shipping lanes we have today is the same they had back in world war ii and world war i, by the way. you can see exactly where these lanes are and they tighten up on the outer banks of north carolina where they make that turn southwest to come down the eastern seaboard. and we'll overlay the world war ii shipping wrecks where we can see exactly where they fall, and they're right in those lanes. the germans knew exactly where to hit us. they were very smart and able to prohibit the coastal shipping, to go to those main ports and come across the atlantic. they wanted to stop here at home first, and they did, especially in 1942. during world war ii, a total of 90 vessels were lost in north carolina alone, with most of these occurring during the first six months of war. of those vessels, 78 of those were merchant ships. all the supplies, everything we
needed, those were the ones they wanted to stop and they did. we also lost eight allied naval ships and four german e-boats, too, by the way. of the 1,627 ships, 20 of them were mariners. the difference here is that the enemy wasn't attacking another naval force, the germans weren't attacking train warriors or scurrying off with battleships, they were attacking train ships with civilian battle crews. the merchant marines that provided a bulk of these sailors a graze for these brave men. 126 merchant mariners died in the line of duty, suffering the worst deaths than any other marine service. they were hit hardest off the marine mainland, but it's also where we started pushing back.
a marine said, history is who recorded the first shot. all in all, what matters is who fired the last shot. north carolina is where that road began for the atlantic war. this is where we had the first victories against the germans, and think of the east coast like a tritan is where they had their shores. the first u-boat was sunk on the east coast. the second became the first u-boat with the coast guard off the u-boat coast. here we have survivors being taken for interrogation by the u.s. navy and coast guard in charleston, south carolina. the third was on july 7, 1942,
where they sank the uss 31. thankfully, by 1933, coastal blackouts going into effect of american shipping had now turned the tide against the u-boat threat. i truly believe these first successes we had off the coast of north carolina, pushing u-boats back from our shores and all the way across the atlantic made d-day and the allied invasion possible on june 6, 1944. if we hadn't had those first successes like we did in 1942, we would never have the freedom to move the manned material necessary for the assault in history. like gettysburg, we truly have a
battle in north carolina. shipwrecks are gravesites, they're memorials to heroes, a fragile reminder of our past and so much more. one of the things i really like to point out about these shipwrecks is obviously the history is amazing. the gravity of how these vessels are lost hits us hard. we want to tell these stories, we want to honor the history heritage, honor our veterans. but we also look at it as they transition from weapons of war to oasis of life, and they become habitat for marine life. i would like to think as an arc arc -- archeologist of marine life,
these giant merchant warships on the sea floor are beautiful homes for all sorts of marine life. we all know when we go to find shipwrecks, the fishermen always know where these wrecks are. they often know many years before we do because that's where the fish are. these vessels are very important for the coastal economies. the charter fishing and diving industries are relying on these shipwrecks, too, to help bring economic well-being to their communities and for jobs. this is really important, so while we're looking at this collection of vessels and how people interact with them, we want people to dive on them, fish on them, enjoy them but just show them respect and don't take any artifacts. otherwise they're there for the public good for us to enjoy in many different ways, whether you just love to fish, you want to go after mahi-mahi, something of that nature, or you just want to scuba dive. it's there for all different
uses. we had a challenge this past year, so we want to get the word out different ways, so one of the things we've done is work with our partners, and especially the state of north carolina, to have online webinars where we talk about stories just like we're telling today and some other things we're doing with our communities. shipwrecks don't end at the water's edge. we tell stories about shipwrecks along the shore, sand dunes and other places, inland lakes. we're working with our partners to really tell all these stories to get that huge picture of what maritime history means for north carolina and eastern seaboard. we invite all of you to join us on that journey. we're also hopefully able to do a telepresence expedition which is actually taking you out to the public out to our shipwrecks, working with a group called the global foundation for ocean exploration, and there is a web link right here you can go to and take a look, but we're hoping to be able to work with
members of the public, teachers, educators, researchers, all sorts of folks and remotely bring these ship tales to them with an rov, a remotely operated vehicle, to the site and we'll tell it to you over the internet. our partners that bring to bear, basically, you can see the rov, which looks like the little robot on the sea floor looking at the little coral on the bottom, and that signal bounces back by satellite to you at home, or you at the coffee shop, or you out with friends at the beach. you could watch that for free on your iphone, computer, wherever you would like. it's something we want to share with the public because this history is important to us as a nation that these veterans are remembered for their sacrifice to us. we work with local aquariums, museums, maritime museums, all
types of folks. we're very proud of that. as we look at these shipwrecks and their stories, it reminds me as americans we're not born to this, but we do make the promise. this is our story. we honor the sacrifice of our veterans and those who came before us. we are looking to expand our sites of the maritime sanctuary, so we invite you to go to our website and also follow us on twitter and facebook to see everything we're up to. now that we've come to the end, i would be more than happy to take any questions that you might have about north carolina and what we're doing to honor all our veterans. thank you. c-span offers a variety of podcasts and something for every listener. these days "washington today"
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