Torpedo Junction—Shipwrecks of WWI and WWII—Featured in Program at Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Burning tanker off North Carolina coast in 1942.

The tanker Dixie Arrow burns off the North Carolina coast on March 26, 1942 after being torpedoed. National Archives Photo.

Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks of North Carolina have long been known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," and among the more than 1,000 vessels believed to have been lost in the area are some from World Wars I and II. They'll be the subject of a talk near the park on January 20.

Not all those shipwrecks along the Outer Banks were the result of the area's infamous storms, treacherous currents or shifting sands. A park publication notes,

Visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore are often surprised to learn that this tranquil setting was once an arena of death and destruction due to rampaging German U-boats. In the dark days of early 1942, enemy submarines descended upon local waters, wreaking havoc on defenseless merchant ships in full view of the Outer Banks.

The pivotal naval campaign that followed, one marked by conspicuous instances of ignorance, frustration, and heroism, came perilously close to knocking the United States out of World War II.

A talk entitled "Torpedo Junction - Shipwrecks of WWI and WWII," will be presented on January 20, 2010 by Joe Hoyt, a maritime archaeologist serving as a field technician and researcher for the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. He'll speak about his work just off the coast of the Outer Banks including his findings in a recent exploration of the HMT Bedfordshire and other World War I and II vessels.

Mr. Hoyt is certainly qualified to speak on the subject. According to information from the park,

He has worked on several NOAA projects in the Thunder Bay, Florida Keys and Monitor National Marine Sanctuaries since 2001. He has worked on underwater archaeology projects in the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and several inland rivers.

Hoyt is also an avid photographer and diver, and has crewed documentary expeditions on BBC's Planet Earth and PBS. Hoyt holds an MA in maritime history and underwater archaeology from East Carolina University's Program in Maritime Studies.

The talk is part of the National Park Service Outer Banks Group Know Your Park citizen science program series,

which is designed to further connect the Outer Banks communities and residents with the rich natural world and cultural heritage of their neighboring National Park sites; Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

“These presentations offer park visitors as well as local residents an opportunity to learn more about, and better enjoy, the coastal environment and their National Parks” stated Mike Murray, Superintendent, Outer Banks Group.

The program will be held on Wednesday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Salvo Volunteer Fire Station, located at 27209 Roth Road, Salvo, North Carolina 27972. The program is free and will last approximately 1 hour.