Oaxaca Wreck

Oaxaca Wreck

Sunken ship gets historical landmark

By Mike Reddell
Bay City Tribune, Published February 3, 2010

Matagorda County's newest state historical landmark recognizes and protects a ship sunk by a German U-boat off Matagorda Peninsula in the early months of World War II.

The landmark is in the Gulf of Mexico, 7.7 miles off Matagorda Peninsula, where the Mexican freighter Oaxaca was sunk by a single torpedo from the German submarine U-171 in the early-morning hours of July 26, 1942.

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) approved Oaxaca's landmark designation. A hearing in Austin Friday affirming THC's decision last fall to accept the landmark's nomination was attended by Craig Hlavinka, representing Matagorda County Historical Commission (MCHC).

Unlike Matagorda County's numerous other state historical landmarks, the Oaxaca won't have the customary Texas Historical Commission metal marker  or any other marker for that matter, Hlavinka said Monday.

The landmark designation was sought under the Texas Antiquities Code to protect the sunken ship that lies in two pieces under 65 feet of water, added Hlavinka, chairman of the MCHC archeology and marine committee.

"It protects the site" that is within Matagorda County boundaries, he said. "It's really a big coral reef. People can dive to it, but not alter anything." It has proven to be a popular dive site in recent years.

In the state archeological landmark nomination, it was noted that the Oaxaca was the only vessel sunk by an enemy submarine off the Texas coast.

"As such, it is a significant reminder of that period in our past when our coast was considered vulnerable to enemy attack and special precautions were taken all along the coast to prevent such attack," the nomination reads.

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