The Search for Norlindo

Arne Diercks, Leonardo Macelloni, Leila Hamdan, Melanie Damour, Douglas Jones

The Search for Norlindo—The First World War II Casualty in the Gulf of Mexico

Principal Investigators: Arne-R. Diercks, Leonardo Macelloni, Leila Hamdan, University of Southern Mississippi; Melanie Damour, Douglas Jones, BOEM.

On May 4, 1942, the U.S. freighter Norlindo became the first ship lost to Germany’s World War II campaign in the Gulf of Mexico. The research team plans to locate, explore, and document the wreckage of this significant archaeological resource in an underexplored area of the eastern Gulf where little is known about the nature and preservation status of World War II casualties. By doing so, they will shed light on the Gulf’s unique history and inform the ship’s status as a potential environmental hazard and its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Norlindo, under a previous name "Volusia".

The research team will conduct a high-resolution acoustic survey in the area of Norlindo’s last known position, about 80 miles northwest of the Dry Tortugas islands, collecting bathymetric and water column data. They will also produce a benthic habitat map that incorporates microbiological data acquired by sampling water, sediment, and wreck debris. This project will improve understanding about how steel historic shipwrecks from World War II shape seafloor biogeography and biodiversity.

In addition, the team will develop a project-focused, one-week Gulf Exploration Camp designed to engage high school students from across the country in the maritime history and ecology of the Gulf of Mexico.