Thursday, October 13, 2005


Underwater wreck could be 1st Canadian ship sunk by German U-boat


CBC News
October 10, 2005

March 31, 1944 - Captured German U-boat
in the Atlantic with whaler from HMCS Chilliwack.
(CP PHOTO/ National Archives of Canada-William

Researchers from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans believe they have come across an important piece of Canadian history. Underwater surveying equipment detected what is believed to be the first ship sunk by a German U-boat in Canadian waters during the Second World War.

In September, a D.F.O. research vessel was doing underwater surveying in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off the north coast of the Gaspé, Que.

It was gathering information on the habitat of the spotted Wolf Fish, an endangered species, when the surveying equipment picked out the shape of something unnatural, man-made.

"We could almost see the shape of a ship, and after analyzing the data we concluded it was a wreck," said Richard Sansfancon, head of the D.F.O.'s hydrographic service.

Sansfacons contacted some friends who are military history enthusiasts. They believe the wreck is of the SS Nicoya, the first ship sunk by a German submarine in Canadian waters during the Second World War.

Marc Milner said the U-boat's offensive on the East Coast played a unique role in Canadian history.

"That's the start of one of the great campaign for Canada during the war and the only one that was fought entirely on Canadian territory," said the chair of the history department at the University of New Brunswick.

The Germans launched two separate U-boat offensives in Canadian waters during the war, sinking 22 boats at a loss of at least 340 lives.

The wreck still has to be officially identified before it can be confirmed as the Nicoya.

RELATED STORY: July 13, 2004: First-ever U-boat found off Canadian coast


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