“When that thing came into view, it was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen,” were the words of diver Geoff Goodreau. He was speaking in a 2019 Smithsonian Channel documentary about the discovery of the U.S. Navy ship Eagle PE-56, which was found 300 feet below the frigid waters of the Atlantic. She was the last U.S. warship to sink off the American East Coast during WWII. And her whereabouts – as well as those of the remains of the 49 crewmen who perished – had been shrouded in mystery for nearly 75 years.
It was April 23, 1945, with the end of WWII in sight, when USS Eagle PE-56 was cruising in the Atlantic some three miles off the Maine coast. Her mission that day was to tow a target for bombing practice by U.S. Navy bombers. In command of the vessel was Lieutenant James G. Early, a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer, and he was joined by a further 61 men.