A German WWII casualty
Dear Capt. Paul:
Do you know where a sunken ship called the Halo is located?
Capt. Paul’s response:
The Halo, a tanker oil/gas ship, was a World War II casualty of a German submarine U-506 off of the Louisiana coast south of Belle Pass.
It is located about 35 miles from the beginning of the Houma Navigation Channel at the Gulf at or about a heading of 131 degrees magnetic and about 28 miles from the mouth Bayou Lafourche at Belle Pass at a bearing of 169 degrees magnetic.
It straddles the boundary line between Grand Isle Leased Block 85 and the South Timbalier Block 130.
It is shown at the northern part of the Mississippi Canyon underwater feature. The location shown below indicated on NOAA Marine Charts 11340 Mississippi River to Galveston, 11366, Mississippi River Approaches and Leased Block Chart #1116 Leased Block MS river to Galveston.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, “At 0758 hours on 20 May 1942, the unescorted and unarmed Halo (Master Ulrich Fred Moller) was hit by two torpedoes from U-506 about 50 miles from the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River, while proceeding on a rapidly changing zigzag pattern at 10.4 knots. The first torpedo struck on the starboard side under the bridge and completely destroyed this part of the ship. The second hit aft of the bridge but forward of the engine room. The second explosion broke the ship in two and ignited the cargo. The tanker plunged bow first, with her propeller still turning, and sank within three minutes; 23 men of the crew of eight officers and 34 men managed to leave the ship, but only one raft was left (because) the four lifeboats and three other rafts were destroyed by the explosions and fire. The survivors huddled together, clinging to wreckage in the water near the sunken ship throughout the night and the next day. The oil on the surface burned for six hours. Two men (clung) to a half-burned raft and stayed on it for seven days without food or water. They were then picked up by Otina and taken to New Orleans.
“In 2000, a shipwreck tentatively identified as Halo was discovered during a pipeline survey for the oil industry …. From July 30 to Aug. 1, 2004, the Deep Wrecks science team deployed an remotely operated vehicle to investigate the site. The vessel’s bow is embedded deeper in the sea floor than the stern. The forecastle’s upper region stands only 3 meters above the ambient sea floor as opposed to the stern, which has 7.3 meters of relief. Only half of the bow’s windlass can be seen protruding from the sediment. The forward mast still stands, and the top of the mast is approximately 16.5 meters above the ambient sea floor. The vessel’s superstructure and the engine (are) visible through the rear structure. Only portions of Halo’s deck remains were documented because of safety concerns raised by low visibility and potential entanglement. Some brown rusticles, which are formed by microbes, were observed on the structure.”
This website also has information on the site and the approximate position.
This and all of the official sites indicate the wreck of the Halo to be located at 28.700239° N. Latitude ~ -90.133403°~ W. Longitude e(DDD.dddddd) or 28°42.0143’ N. Latitude ~ 90°08.00041’~ W. Longitude (DDD,MM.mmmm).
NOAA Chart 11340 shows a shipwreck at that location in about 30 fathoms of water. The chart also shows a fish haven and several near oil-gas platforms nearby.
The site indicates the Halo is in relatively shallow water at almost 500 feet. The water visibility is very poor, and the abundance of fish make this a location that fishermen really like. Thus the site is covered in hooked nets and fishing line.
I suggest you first check the listed position and, if necessary, broaden your sonar search in an ever-increasing pattern until you find the shipwreck.
One should not forget that these types of vessels are war graves and that the final resting place for the crews of these vessels. Please respect the loss of human life that will be forever linked to these sites.
Unless otherwise specified, all positions are stated as Degrees, minutes and thousandths of minutes (DDD,MM.mmm) and were determined using WGS 84 Datum. All bearings and courses are stated in Magnetic degrees.
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