NEW YORK -- Marine researchers Wednesday reported they had found the notorious U-20, the German submarine that sank the liner Lusitania in World War I, and the troopship Leopoldville that sank with more than 800 GIs off France in 1944.
The National Underwater and Marine Agency, a non-profit foundation supported in large part by writer Clive Cussler, announced the finds at a news conference aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, now a museum on the Hudson River. NUMA spent $150,000 on the expedition.
'Of the thousands of U-boats constructed by Germany the U-20 is the one most recalled by history,' Cussler said. 'No vessel in two world wars earned a more lasting place in infamy than the submarine that sank the Lusitania.'
Cussler's group, using special sonar equipment, zeroed in on the sub June 9 about 600 feet off Vielby Beach on the west coast of Jutland, Denmark, in 17 feet of water.
The sinking of the civilian luxury liner off the coast of Ireland May 7, 1915 killed 1,198 people, including many women and children. The attack enraged the United States and set the stage for U.S. involvement in World War I.
Cussler said the sub's commander ordered the U-20 destroyed when it ran aground in 1915 on the Danish coast, but part of the sub later could be seen from shore.
In 1925, the Danish admiralty ordered it blown up to get rid of its memory, Cussler said. In 1979, a Danish diver claimed to have spotted the wreckage, but could not find it when he returned.
'Everybody thought it was gone forever, everybody thought she'd been blown up twice,' said one of the seven crew members aboard the NUMA research ship.
The vessel lies upright, its hull buried in the sand and its conning tower lying a few yards away.
There were no immediate plans to raise the vessel, but divers were trying to salvage artifacts.
The Leopoldville, a Belgian liner carrying 2,200 troops of the Army's 66th Infantry Division, was torpedoed about 6 miles from Cherbourg on Christmas Eve, 1944. More than 800 American servicemen were lost.
Cussler's crew located the vessel July 1, after an illegal search of waters where France tests submarines. Searchers conceded French officials denied permission for a search but one was made anyway and the research ship Arvor then ran for the English Channel.
The Leopoldville now lies about 5.5 miles from shore under 150 feet of water. The troopship is sitting upright where its Belgian crew had dropped anchor to keep it from drifting.
'It sort of lets you know where it is -- it's a concrete episode and we have an ending,' said Richard Dutka, 65, of Staten Island, N.Y., who survived the ordeal.
Dutka, a retired machinist, said no government had sought to find the Leopoldville, which was 'indicative of a coverup' of the tragic set of blunders that caused such a high death toll.
The position of the wreckage -- sitting upright on the bottom - proves it was anchored to await tugs, Cussler said. He said the ship's crew, who knew how to winch aboard the anchorsand free the ship, escaped in lifeboats and abandoned the infantrymen in the crippled ship.
'I went down with the ship,' said Dutka. 'Our outfit stood in formation on that deck when the ship went down.'
Dutka was rescued from the icy waters by 'a bunch of Brooklyn boys' who picked him up in a small boat.