Shipwreck found dating back to WWII off Jersey coast

Dive Crew shows off the plate from boat sunk by German U-boats during World War II. Top Left Tom Packer, Bottom Left Rustin Cassway, Top Right, Mike Dudas, Bottom Right Brian Sullivan (Photo courtesy of Rustin Cassway)

Dive Crew shows off the plate from boat sunk by German U-boats during World War II. Top Left Tom Packer, Bottom Left Rustin Cassway, Top Right, Mike Dudas, Bottom Right Brian Sullivan (Photo courtesy of Rustin Cassway)

A discovery off the coast of Cape May shows a ship brought down during World War II is in the waters off New Jersey, not Canada.

Rustin Cassway says he was diving with partner Brian Sullivan about 70 miles off the coast of Cape May on July 4th when they found a steamship sunk by a German U-boat (submarine) during World War II.

“We saw these two white things, and we both thought at the same time it was the roof of a scallop boat and when we got down it was white coral growing on the top of the boilers and on top of the engine of the steamship,” Cassway said.

(Anders Beer Wilse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
The team brought up a plate from the boat’s boiler and after some research found that the ship came from Norway and was named “DS Octavian.”

“Sixteen families from Norway and one from England that family members died at the hands of a U-boat who never knew what happened to their family,” he said.

Previously the ship was thought to have gone down near St. John, Canada — its destination.

The group plans to travel to Norway next year and donate artifacts from their dive and speak to the family of some of those who perished after the boat was torpedoed at sea.

Before that trip, they plan to dive more on the wreck, since they haven’t made the location public, to see if they can find more artifacts.

German submarines and ships were so prevalent off the Atlantic Coast during World War II that shore communities were on guard.  In New Jersey and Delaware, a series of towers were constructed on the coast to keep watch.  While many fell into disrepair, some are still open to the public.

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