Sunday, January 22, 2006

 

Alberta diver to search for WWII u-boats off East Coast

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Edmonton Journal
By Larry Johnsrude
January 18, 2006



Diver Rob Rondeau of Hardisty, Alta,
plans to search for two German u-boats
from the Second World War sunk off
Canada's East Coast.
Photograph by : File photo supplied

An Alberta diving company is planning to search for two German u-boats sunk off Canada’s East Coast during and after the Second World War.

Rob Rondeau of Hardisty, president of ProCom Diving Services, says he’s planning to begin the search for the two lost submarines later this year.

A marine archaeologist who was part of last year’s expedition exploring the Empress of Ireland wreck at the bottom of the St. Lawrence, Rondeau says the German u-boats represent an important part of Canada’s maritime past.

“Most Canadians don't know that we used u-boats after the war-- let alone that they attacked shipping off this country's East Coast during the Second World War,” he says. “In fact, the Nazi submarine threat here was so real that it almost cost the Allies the war. The story of the Battle of the Atlantic and Canada's counterattack against its u-boat foe is one of the greatest stories of the war.”

Rondeau’s plans, called Project Seawolves, involves searching for U-190 off the coast of Nova Scotia and U-520 off the coast of Newfoundland.

The U-520 was sunk Oct. 30, 1942, by a Canadian Digby aircraft during Operation Drumbeat during the height of Germany’s u-boat war in the North Atlantic. The submarine went down 27 naughtical miles east of St. John’s. All the 53 crew perished.

U-190 surrendered to Canadian military officials on May 11th, 1945, after sinking the HMCS Esquimalt a month earlier. The Esquimalt was the last Canadian warship sunk in the Second World War.

U-190 was taken over by the Canadian Navy and was used as an anti-submarine training vessel until it was scuttled in 1947 near the last know position of HMCS Esquimalt, approximately five naughtical miles east of Chebucto Head, N. S.

Rondeau says he plans to search for the lost submarines using a marine magnetometer, which creates a graphic image of the sea floor by measuring magnetic anomalies. He will also try to create images of the submarines using side-scan sonar. If conditions allow, divers will then try to explore the subs.

He says he’s talking with producers at the Discovery Channel about doing a documentary on Project Seawolves. He is also seeking sponsors to help cover the cost, although he says he is financing the project largely with internal company funds.

For further information on Project Seawolves click here and go to Expeditions at the bottom of the page.


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