World War I: Submarine Wreckage Off Norfolk Identified as German U-boat Lost in 1915

By Staff Writer

Jan 22, 2016 04:21 AM EST

The wreck of a World War I (WWI) submarine has been found at the bottom of the North Sea, 56 miles off the Norfolk coast. The submarine is identified as German U-boat, U-31. The wreckage was first found in 2012 but has just been officially identified recently.

The wreck was found during a research for a wind farm development by ScottishPower Renewables. The workers noticed the 189 feet long, 13 feet wide and 15 feet high vessel immediately. The vessel was, however, lying on the seabed at the depth of 98 feet.

Then a series of studies were conducted to determine the profiling and identification of the wreck. It took almost four years to identify the vessel because it's difficult to inspect the submarine comprehensively due to murky water conditions in the East Anglia region. The studies were initially carried out by the Royal Netherlands Navy, which the company contacted when they saw the vessel because the Netherlands Navy were searching for their final missing submarine from the World War II.

Turns out the wreckage were much older than the submarine that the Royal Netherlands Navy have been looking for. The Dutch submarine went missing in action on June 1940 after the crew went patrolling the waters between Denmark and Norway, according to CNN. This submarine wreckage, however, was later identified to carry 35 crews on a patrol on January 13, 1915. 

It's confirmed that all 35 men on board were killed. Charlie Jordan, project director with ScottishPower Renewables said that he was relieved that the discovery could provide closure to relatives and descendants of the submarines lost who may have always wondered what had happened to their loved ones, he told The Guardian

Marine archaeologist at preservation organization Historic England, Mark Dunkley, also noted that the submarine was in a remarkable condition. He also said that the U-31 was among eight German submarines that sank during the WWI. While six of the sunken submarines' wreckage have been found, the location of two submarines, including the U-31, was unknown.

According to BBC, scans of the seabed of the North Sea showed more than 60 wrecks over the last two years. However, most of the wrecks were already known about, unlike the unexpected U-boat. 

After being declared lost over a century ago, this discovery could bring comfort and closure to the relatives and descendants of te 35 crews lost in the U-31. Also, Dunkley noted, that this serves as a poignant reminder of all those lost at sea, on land and in the air during the WWI.  

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