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New discovery highlights WWII U-Boat threat to US coast downplayed by officials

Just south of the Mississippi River lies a German U-Boat designated by an international agreement as an official underwater war grave of 52 crewmen of a German U-166. Documenting evidence for the serious threat of actual German U-Boat occupation of the Gulf of Mexico is a crew of explorers "led by the man who discovered the Titanic," according to a recent report aired Wednesday on KHOU news in Houston, Texas, by reporter Doug Miller. A new documentary may be in the works as more evidence is being uncovered.

According to reporter Tania Dell's report for Channel 4 on Wednesday in New Orleans, the "diving expedition captured new images of the German wreckage. Historians say it serves as a reminder of how close the Nazis came to American soil." According to Dell's interview with Dr. Bob Ballard of the Ocean Exploration Trust, Ballard claims that "Hitler brought the war to our doorstep shortly after they declared war on us."

Back in July 1942, a Coast Guard escort vessel blasted the U-boat apart after it sank the SS Robert E Lee, a freighter bound for New Orleans, killing 25 passengers on-board."Most people don't realize that during World War II, America really was under siege," said National World War II Museum curator Tom Czekanski, as he commented to Channel 4.

"Once we improved our defenses there, they shifted down to the Gulf of Mexico where we didn't have enough forces to keep up with it," said Czekanski about Germany's decision to move its U-boats south after the U.S. fortified its Atlantic Coast. "War came very close to our shores. Over 20 U-boats operated in the Gulf of Mexico and over 70 ships were sunk off the Gulf of Mexico in 1942 and 1943," added Czekanski.

Miller's report for KHOU concluded that "Nazi propaganda films trumpeted the triumph of Hitler’s U-boats, which sank almost 2,800 allied ships, 549 of them American, most infamously in the north Atlantic. But in the early months after the U.S. entered World War II, the German navy dispatched 22 U-boats to menace shipping in the Gulf of Mexico, including the Texas coastline. Yet few Americans today realize how close the war came to the Gulf Coast.

“And there’s a very good reason,” said Richie Kohler, a renowned diver and shipwreck historian participating in the expedition. “The United States government didn’t want us to know. They didn’t want us to know how Germany was taking us to task, how successful these U-boats were.”

Classic films also chronicled the efforts of Nazi U-Boats and Germany's drive for supremacy in the oceans off American coasts.

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