Surveys explore U-boat, oil spill impact

This undated image provided by Minerals Management Service shows a deck gun on a German U-boat, believe to be the only one sunken in the Gulf of Mexico during World War II. (AP Photo/Minerals Management Service, File)
This undated image provided by Minerals Management Service shows a deck gun on a German U-boat, believe to be the only one sunken in the Gulf of Mexico during World War II. (AP Photo/Minerals Management Service, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down with a passenger ship sunk in 1942 by a Nazi submarine, or may have been scuttled after passengers and crew were rescued.

Interpretations differ. But the pictures taken by a pair of mini-subs tethered to Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus are among the brightest and clearest ever taken of the Robert E. Lee and the U-166, which was sunk by depth charges from the Lee’s escort on July 30, 1942.

Ballard’s two submersibles provide much more light than the singleton available to most scientists.

The U-166 was among dozens of German U-boats that menaced U.S. shipping during World War II in an operation Germany code-named “Drumbeat.”

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