The U-boat skipper, Hans-Dieter Heinicke, had a crippled submarine and was headed home when he spotted the juicy allied convoy off the coast of North Carolina.
Although Heinicke, 29, had a damaged boat, he had sunk only three ships on his four prior patrols and probably saw the 19 merchant vessels of convoy KS-520 plodding south at 8 knots as a chance to redeem himself.
About 4 p.m. on July 15, 1942, about 30 miles off Cape Hatteras, U-576 attacked. In the ensuing free-for-all, the sub sank one ship and damaged two others but was assailed by aircraft and escorts, and sank with all hands.
On Tuesday, researchers announced that they had discovered the wreck of U-576, as well as the wreck of the sunken merchant ship, and hailed the find as a rare snapshot of a little known chapter of World War II.
The two ships were found in August in 690 feet of water a few hundred yards apart following a five-year search headed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)...(see more at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/)