Wreck of First U.S. Ship Sunk in WWII Found Off Australia

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The rusting wreck of the first American vessel sunk during World War II has been found off Australia's southeastern coast, ocean researchers said Thursday.

The MV City of Rayville, a freighter carrying a cargo of lead, wool and copper from Australia to New York, sank in the Bass Strait after striking a German mine on Nov. 8, 1940, a year before the United States entered the war.

One seaman drowned while trying to recover personal items from the sinking vessel but the 37 other crew survived.

The approximate location of the wreck — about 8.5 miles from Cape Otway in the strait that separates mainland Australia from the island state of Tasmania — had been known since 2002 but it was too deep to be precisely located.

Researchers at Deakin University found the vessel 230 feet underwater by using state-of-the-art sonar equipment during a research project to map the seabed off the state of Victoria.

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