Earlier this month, two shipwrecks, dating back to World War II, were discovered in the Atlantic ocean. One is an Allied vessel, the other a German U-Boat, and both represent a historic discovery by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

A press release from that organization describes the circumstances that sank these craft underwater more than 70 years ago. According to them, the Allied ship, the freighter Bluefields, was attacked by the German U-576 in an area near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The U.S. Navy was able to respond shortly, but both ships ended up lost to the ocean until recently. Before it was sunk itself, the U-Boat managed to sink four other Allied merchant vessels.

The discovery is the result of a planned effort begun six years ago, and has caused a difference of opinion between nations. While German authorities have said they are "not interested" in recovering the wrecks, believing them to be war graves, David Alberg, the head of the NOAA Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, said there is still much to learn from this site.

"Most people associate the Battle of the Atlantic with the cold, icy waters of the North Atlantic," he said in the release. "But few people realize how close the war actually came to America's shores. As we learn more about the underwater battlefield, Bluefields and U-576 will provide additional insight into a relatively little-known chapter in American history."

Because of the tricky legalities surrounding sites of international interest, divers must take care when investigating old wrecks, so they don't disturb anything. This includes making sure they are covered by diving insurance in case of accident or disturbance.

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