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Following Operation Drumbeat: The Wrecks of SS Gulfpenn and SS Alcoa Puritan

E/V Nautilus has spent the past two weeks tracing the results of Operation Drumbeat, in which German U-boats harassed shipping off of the U.S. coast. Many ships were sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, including the two vessels featured here: SS Gulfpenn and SS Alcoa Puritan.

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SS Gulfpenn: Covered in Life

SS Gulfpenn was sunk in 1942 by a German U-boat, U-506. 

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SS Gulfoil: The Bow

The vessel was carrying 90,000 barrels of oil when she was sunk.

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SS Gulfoil: Habitat

Now the vessel rests on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, home to a variety of deep sea life, including lophelia coral and flytrap anemones. 

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SS Gulfoil: A Closer Look

Here's a zoom on several of those species, including a large flytrap anemone and several smaller anemone species.

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SS Gulfoil: Porthole

We stopped for a quick look into the porthole of the vessel, which was on route to Philadelphia when it was torpedoed. 

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SS Gulfoil: Lophelia

The wreck was home to a large colony of lophelia, a slow growing coral found in deep waters around the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. 

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SS Alcoa Puritan: Downed Cargo Ship

Only a few days before SS Gulfoil was torpedoed, U-507 took down another ship - the steamer SS Alcoa Puritan.

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SS Alcoa Puritan: Windows

She is covered in rusticles, a portmanteau of "rust" and "icicles" coined by Dr. Ballard as he explored Titanic.

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SS Alcoa Puritan: Microbial Life

Microbial communities form on iron, creating the beautiful structures.

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SS Alcoa Puritan: The Bow

SS Alcoa Puritan had a cargo of bauxite, or alumnium ore.

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SS Alcoa Puritan: From Argus

The ship was unarmed and unescorted when she was sunk.

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SS Alcoa Puritan: A Closer Look

The three months these two vessels were sunk were particularly bloody ones in which German U-boats sunk over 130 vessels in U.S. waters.