Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Deep Sea Detectives: The Mystery of U-166

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 16, 2014

Given recent news items about the exploration of U-166 and her last victim, the passenger liner Robert E. Lee, folks might be interested in this old Deep Sea Detectives episode about the discovery and original study of those vessels:


U-166 was discovered in 2001 by two archaeologists from C&C Technologies, Rob Church and Dan Warren, going over data collected for a pipeline survey. I think it was Dan who first suggested the blurry shape might be U-166, which had never been found but was supposedly sunk many miles away. The boat’s hull is broken forward of the deck gun, and the two sections are some distance apart on the sea floor.

Once it had been determined that the wreck was indeed U-166, there was a lot of additional research done both in the U.S. and in Germany. Captain Kuhlmann’s widow was still living, and she had a trunk of his that had been sent to her after his loss that she had left intact. In it were photographs and film footage (below) of the boat during its working-up trials in the Baltic and passage to its forward operating base at L’Orient.



Digital reconstruction of U-171, another Type IXC U-boat that figures in this story, on Flickr here.





4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on July 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    A nice touch adding the video about the U-166 and the Robert E. Lee, Andy. Thanks.

  2. Reed (the original, accept no substitutes) said, on July 16, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    And if you’d ever like to see one of these U-boats up close (inside and out), the U-505 is beautifully preserved at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It’s a spectacular exhibit which also serves as a good (if occasionally over-dramatic) introduction to the WW2 submarine war in the Atlantic. Well worth a visit. Here’s the link (and be sure to click on the link at the bottom about moving the sub to its new home).

  3. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on July 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I was able to visit the U-505 about four years ago. One of the most interesting and illuminating exhibits I’ve seen. Reed is 100 percent correct – well worth the time and money to make the trip.

  4. H. E. Parmer said, on July 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the video links. And if anyone wants to read a personal account of life in the U-Boat service during WW2, in my opinion you can’t do much better than Herbert A. Werner’s Iron Coffins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: