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German WWI submarine resurfaces on French coast

January 12, 2019

The remains of a German UC-61 submarine have reappeared near a French seaside resort. The submarine was used to sink merchant ships during the First World War. Parts of the U-boat have been visible since December.

Remains of a German WWI submarine
Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Charlet

The wreckage of a German submarine used in World War I has reappeared on a beach in northern France after being buried under the sand for decades.

The UC-61 submarine sank more than a century ago, with the 20-member crew abandoning the vessel then scuttling it.

The rusty remains of the submarine have been visible at low tide off the coast of the seaside resort town Wissant since December. Two sections of about eight meters (about 26 feet) and three meters (about 10 feet) in length have now resurfaced, Vincent Schmidt, a local tour guide, told the Agence France-Presse news agency

"All the citizens of Wissant know that there is a submarine here," Schmitt said. "But the wreck mostly lies in the sand and therefore cannot be seen. It's the first time it's been exposed so far."

A person walking next to the submarine's remains
Locals knew the sub was there, but could never get such a clear view of it Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Charlet

The U-boat was originally about 50 meters long. It was deployed in the English channel in July 1917 off the French Opal Coast in the English channel.

Historians say the submarine was tasked with attacking merchant ships. It is credited with sinking at least 11 ships, which it did by laying mines and firing torpedoes. 

Authorities do not want to recover the whole submarine, and Wissant's prefecture says the remains are not dangerous.

dv/sms (AFP, local media)