South Jersey dive crew rewrites chapter of WWII history

Mike DeNardo
July 17, 2018 - 2:37 pm
Clockwise, from bottom left: Rustin Cassway, Tom Packer, Mike Dudas and Brian Sullivan

Provided by Rustin Cassway

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CAPE MAY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — History is being revised, thanks to a dive team that discovered the wreckage of a Norwegian freighter off of Cape May earlier this month.

For 76 years it was believed the Norwegian steamship Octavian was torpedoed by German U-boat U-203 off of Newfoundland during World War II. Earlier this month, that story changed when a local dive team explored a known wreck 70 miles south of Cape May.

"As we got closer, we're like, 'Holy crap! It's a steamship!' " said team leader Rustin Cassway.

Norwegian steamship Octavian
Provided by Rustin Cassway

Cassway was diving with team members Tom Packer, Mike Dudas and Brian Sullivan.

"I went down, and I looked right between the engine and the boiler. And I'm telling you, sitting out in plain sight was what's called the builder's plaque," Cassaway said.

The bronze plaque had the builder's information. A historical search revealed the Octavian was likely sunk by the U-123 off the coast of South Jersey, not Canada. The dive team plans to present the plaque to the Norwegian Maritime Museum, along with 17 bricks from the wreck: One for each crew member who died.