Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Life

Dakota Midday: 'Nova' Uncovers Secrets of Nazi U-boat Sunk in Gulf of Mexico


In the months after Pearl Harbor, “Operation Drumbeat” sent Nazi U-boats to American shores. The German naval command caught the U.S. unprepared and their subs sunk hundreds of tankers and freighters supplying the European war effort. The U-166 is one of the few U-boats sunk in U.S. waters. It went down in the Gulf of Mexico after attacking a passenger ship, the Robert E. Lee.

Captain Herbert G. Claudius, commander of the escort ship PC 566, dropped depth charges on U-166 and after seeing an oil slick, concluded that he had sunk it. The Navy disagreed and relieved Claudius of his command and sent him back to training.

Tonight's NOVA/National Geographic special airing on SDPB1-TV, Nazi Attack on America, follows undersea explorer Robert Ballard and his team as they solve the mystery of what happened to U-166 and restore Captain Claudius's record.

Ballard is explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society and director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Ocean Exploration and Archeological Oceanography. His work in underwater archeology includes the discoveries of the wrecks of the Titanic, the battleship Bismarck and John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed the story of the German U-boat campaign.

Related Content