Next Meeting

"On the Precipice of WWI: The Legacy of U-53 "

Jennifer Sellitti and Joe Mazraani

Tuesday, October 25th @ 7 PM
The Brazen Tavern
356 West 44th Street, New York, NY

Come upstairs for Happy Hour @ 6 PM

Since childhood, Joe Mazraani has been fascinated by the sea, its creatures and the treasure that is the underwater world. Growing up in Lebanon, Joe spent his summers by the Mediterranean. He immigrated to the U.S. at age 15 and became a certified diver in the mid-90s. Joe quickly took to diving wrecks off the Northeast U.S. coast and instantly developed an obsession with exploring the sunken hulks that litter the approaches to New York Harbor. Today, Joe is president of Atlantic Wreck Salvage and operates the dive vessel Tenacious, which he specifically acquired and outfitted to accomplish several projects, including locating U-550, the last German U-boat known to rest in diveable North Atlantic waters, and other deep uncharted wrecks in the North Atlantic. In March of 2020, he was inducted as an associate member of the Boston Sea Rovers.

Jennifer Sellitti manages topside operations during dive expeditions and conducts historical research on both the ships Tenacious dives and ships that are the subject of new projects for the team. She delivers presentations to dive clubs, community groups, and museums to help members of the public understand historical significance and importance of wreck diving and artifact recovery in the North Atlantic. Together, Joe, Jennifer and the D/V Tenacious team have discovered numerous shipwrecks and conduct regular expeditions to dive sites off the eastern seaboard. In addition to local expeditions, they have participated in expeditions to the wrecks of HMHS Britannic and Lusitania. Joe and Jennifer are both U.S.C.G. licensed ship captains. When they are not at sea, they are practicing criminal defense attorneys.

In this presentation, Jenn and Joe will talk about how German U-53 Commander Hans Rose made an unannounced visit to the Commandant of the U.S. Second Naval District in Newport Harbor in the morning of October 7, 1916. America had not yet entered WWI. After a tense visit, Rose returned to his U-boat and sank five British and Norwegian ships in the waters South of Nantucket. Powerless to retaliate, the Americans could only watch as U-53 blew the Stephano, Strathdene, West Point, Bloomersdijk, and Christian Knudsen to the depths. D/V Tenacious and our partners have been locating, exploring, and documenting these historic wrecks. In September 2020, D/V Tenacious located the last remaining U-53 casualty, West Point, and dived her for the first time The crew returned in August of 2022 to document the wreck in a series of dives. Big Apple Divers audience will be the first to see underwater photos and videos from the 2022 expedition.

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