A mysterious shipwreck has been discovered off the east coast of the U.S., which experts say may be the remains of a World War II-era cargo ship.
The discovery was made on July 18 during the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual technology demonstration. “This shipwreck was mapped off the coast of Virginia/North Carolina,” NOAA explained in a statement. “It is likely a World War II freighter with evidence of degradation typical of World War II-era freighters.”
“Within the image, one can observe the single propeller shaft, machinery, and boiler spaces,” NOAA added.
Synthetic aperture sonar, a sophisticated underwater imaging technology, was used to make the discovery. NOAA exploration vessel Okeanos Explorer towed a KATFISH system from Kraken Robotics, which mapped the seabed. Maritime technology specialist ThayerMahan also worked with the government agency and Kraken Robotics on the data-intensive project.
“This type of data can be used for site identification, assessment, and monitoring of Underwater Cultural Heritage sites over time,” NOAA added. “The resolution of the data are high enough that they could also contribute to site mapping for archaeological studies.”
The government agency is no stranger to wreck discoveries. A mysterious 19th-century shipwreck was recently discovered by NOAA researchers testing underwater drone equipment in the Gulf of Mexico. A team aboard the Okeanos Explorer was testing the equipment on May 16 when the wreck was spotted.
In 2014, federal scientists released the first images of the newly discovered wreckage of a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888, killing 16 people.
The following year, experts from NOAA and the University of Hawaii released remarkable images of a U.S. Navy seaplane sunk during the opening minutes of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Other shipwrecks have been discovered by accident. Earlier this year, for example, a search for shipping containers that fell off a merchant ship during a storm led to the discovery of a historic 16th-century shipwreck off the Dutch coast.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers