The Ghost Fleet of the Outer Banks refers to a collection of shipwrecks along the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. These shipwrecks are remnants of a large fleet of merchant vessels that were intentionally scuttled in 1942 during World War II as well around 5000 wrecks stemming from 1526 when record keeping began. These are also referred to by the expression ( The Graveyard of the Atlantic)
The purpose of scuttling these ships was to create an artificial barrier against German U-boats. The ships were deliberately sunk to create a defensive line to protect American vessels from enemy attacks. However, the project was deemed unnecessary and abandoned shortly after construction began, leaving behind a ghost fleet of approximately 30-60 ships.
Over the years, many of these ships have partially or fully deteriorated, becoming popular attractions for divers and history enthusiasts. Today, the Ghost Fleet has become a popular spot for scuba diving and underwater exploration. The wrecks provide a unique opportunity to witness the underwater history of World War II and discover marine life that has made the sunken ships their home.
The North Carolina coast has a long history of shipwrecks . There are several reasons for the prevalence of shipwrecks in this area:
1. Geographic Location: The North Carolina coast is known for its treacherous waters, including shifting sandbars, strong currents, and unpredictable weather patterns. These conditions made navigating the coastline difficult, especially for early explorers and merchant ships.
2. Outer Banks and Diamond Shoals: The Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, is notorious for its hazardous conditions. Diamond Shoals, which extend several miles offshore, were particularly dangerous due to their shallow water and underwater sandbars. These navigational challenges have contributed to numerous shipwrecks in the region.
3. Cape Hatteras: Cape Hatteras, located on the Outer Banks, is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to its reputation as one of the most dangerous stretches of coastline in the world. The convergence of warm and cold ocean currents near Cape Hatteras creates unpredictable weather conditions, intense storms, and strong currents, leading to many shipwrecks throughout history.
4. Historical Significance: The North Carolina coast has been a significant maritime route and trading hub for centuries. Ships traveling along the Atlantic coast often encountered challenges navigating the shallow waters, reefs, and storms, increasing the likelihood of shipwrecks.
Overall, a combination of geographical factors, treacherous coastal conditions, and the area’s historical importance as a trade route has contributed to the high concentration of shipwrecks along the North Carolina coast.
Both make a interesting historical wall hanging -similar to a nautical chart especially if framed.