Just 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina, two World War II wrecks lie underwater—one a member of a 24-ship American convoy, and one a German U-boat. US-led researchers recently discovered the Nicaragua-flagged freighter Bluefields and Germany's U-576, missing for some 70 years, just 240 yards apart, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports. The ships faced off as part of the Battle of the Atlantic; the already damaged U-576 was headed home in 1942 when it spotted 19 merchant ships, including the Bluefields, and their five escorts. The German skipper, seeing a chance to redeem a lackluster campaign, attacked, sinking the Bluefields and damaging two other ships.
US aircraft accompanying the convoy immediately bombed and sank the German vessel, CNN reports. The ships remain owned by their respective governments, and Germany "is not interested in a recovery of the remnants of the U-576," which it sees as a war grave in accordance with custom. All 45 people aboard the U-boat died, CNN notes. The Nicaraguan freighter, by contrast, had no casualties. "We have this notion generally that World War II happened in Europe and the South Pacific," says a NOAA official, as per the Washington Post. But the find, made in August, is "a World War II battlefield … right in our backyard." (Another shipwreck—the "Titanic of the ancient world"—recently revealed new secrets.)