The submarine wreckage was identified by divers last week after first being discovered during seabed scans for a windfarm project.
Windfarm developers ScottishPower Renewables have identified an uncharted wreck off the Norfolk coast as a German WWI U-boat missing in action since 1915.
The wreckage is Germany’s U-31, which departed Wilhelmshaven on Germany’s North Sea coast on 13 January 1915 and its whereabouts remained a mystery until a team of divers successfully identified the craft last week.
Mark Dunkley, marine archaeologist for Historic England said the submarine is thought to have struck a mine while on routine patrol off England’s east coast. The boat then sank, taking with it four officers and 31 enlisted men who were on board.
Dunkley said: “After being on the seabed for over a century, the submarine appears to be in a remarkable condition with the conning tower present and the bows partially buried.
“Relatives and descendants of those lost in the U-31 may now take some comfort in knowing the final resting place of the crew and the discovery serves as a poignant reminder of all those lost at sea, on land and in the air during the First World War.”
Workers for Fugro, a Dutch survey and geotechnical firm, initially discovered the wreck after taking scans of the seabed during research for a windfarm development in 2012.
Its location 91km east of Caister-on-Sea in Norfolk also made the ship a potential candidate for the Dutch military submarine HNLMS O13 that went missing in action early in WWII. On that basis, the Royal Netherlands Navy conducted dives to identify the vessel but the divers’ GoPro footage seen in this video clearly identified the conning tower and deck layout as consistent with German design. Confirmation was made based on the technical drawings seen below.
As an official military maritime grave, the shipwreck will remain in its final resting place. ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenhall’s plans for offshore windfarm development will ensure that the area remains undisturbed.
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