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German WWI submarine discovered off Belgian coast

September 19, 2017

Authorities in Flanders called it the "best preserved" find from the era. The bodies of all 23 crew members were found aboard the vessel, in a watery grave on the floor of the North Sea.

Deutschland U-Boot im 1. Weltkrieg Postkarte
Image: picture alliance/akg-images

Belgian authorities announced on Tuesday that they had discovered the remarkably well-preserved wreck of a World War I German submarine, commonly called a U-boat, off the coast of West Flanders.

"It's quite amazing that we found something like this," Western Flanders Governor Carl Decaluwe told the Associated Press, calling the find "very unique."

"The impact damage was at the front, but the submarine remains closed and there are 23 people still onboard."

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The UB II-type submarine was found 25-30 meters (82-98 feet) below the surface on the floor of the North Sea. About 18 such vessels were stationed with the Flanders Flotilla in Bruges between 1915 and 1918 in order to disrupt British trade routes in the English Channel and the North Sea.

Thirteen of the submarines were destroyed, of which authorities have found 11. But, according to the local government, this recent find is the "best preserved" of them all.

Researchers believe that the damage to the front of the vessel indicates that it struck a mine with its upper deck. Governor Decaluwe said he had contacted the German ambassador to Belgium about proper disposal of the sailors' remains.

es/kl (AFP, Reuters)