A German submarine which was sunk during World War 1 has been discovered in the North Sea and what surprises everyone is its condition, it is in such great condition that the bodies of 23 crewmen were still believed to be on board.
It was explored by a diver underneath 100ft of water off the port of Ostend. It is the 11th German submarine from the 1914-18 war to be found in Belgian waters.
Thomas Termote, a diver and expert in marine archaeology who found the wreck said: ‘We thought that all the big wrecks had already been discovered so this was a total surprise.’
The exact location has not been revealed to deter treasure-hunters.
He said the wreck – a UB-II type torpedo armed boat – was 88ft long long with the rear end partly detached.
‘The submarine is very intact, everything is still closed – that’s what he (Termote) saw during his first visit this summer,’ Jan Mees, head of the Flanders Marine Institute said.
The submarine reportedly had 22 crew members and a commander on board, West Flanders provincial governor Carl Decaluwe told.
‘All the hatches are still closed. This suggests the wreck has not been discovered before and moreover the 23 crew members are still inside,’ Decaluwe said.
The German embassy was informed about the discovery in Belgium. During WWI, the German navy used the Belgian port of Zeebrugge as a base for its submarines, known as U-boats, to attack shipping in the North Sea.
To fight the U-boat threat, the British tried to block Zeebrugge port in 1918 by scuttling old ships in the entry channel.
Another dive is being considered to clean some of the outside and get its identification number, after which the German authorities could check it against their record and contact the families of the deceased.
‘If the Germans want to get the bodies back it’s possible, but highly unlikely,’ Mees added.
Termote said the wreck would be ‘nearly impossible’ to refloat and would therefore be ‘considered a sea grave for the sailors.’
Germany lost nearly 1200 men in 70 U-boats. Its base was in the medieval city of Bruges, 12 kilometres from the coast but linked to the sea at Ostend and Zeebrugge by canals.