After 90 years, sea gives up secret of sunken sub

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FOR more than 90 years its precise location has remained a mystery.

But now, thanks to the perseverance of two amateur Scottish divers, the wreckage of a German U-boat sunk off Scotland's coast in 1915 has finally been discovered.

The pair, Jim MacLeod and Martin Sinclair, found the U12's remains 25 miles from the Berwickshire port of Eyemouth at the weekend.

They had been searching for the 60-metre U-boat – the first submarine to have an aeroplane carried on its deck – for the past five years as its precise location had become a mystery.

The pair brought in a researcher to find the log books of the British destroyers HMS Ariel, Acheron and Attack involved in the sinking of the U12 and were able to work out its precise location – 15 miles away from where it was originally thought to be.

Mr MacLeod, 45, a computer systems analyst from Bo'ness and 47-year-old Mr Sinclair, a mechanical engineer from Falkirk, enlisted specialist Eyemouth firm Marine Quest Dive Charters to visit the location where they found the boat lying 150 feet down on the seabed.

It was the first time the wreck had been visited since it was sunk in 1915.

The site has been reported to the German authorities as 19 sailors died in the attack and relatives will be informed. It has been declared an official war grave and it will remain untouched.

Mr MacLeod said: "It has taken a lot of effort and perseverance but it has finally paid off.

"Although the name of the boat has been rusted off, we were able to identify it as it was quite unique in its day with its stern torpedo tubes, conning tower and submarine portholes, which were a bit pointless frankly.

"It was the first ever submarine to launch a plane at sea. It would go so far on the surface and then when it came into the range of the enemy would dive down, allowing the plane to take off, but it was an experiment which never took off.

The pair had contacted Kevin Heath, from Stromness, Orkney, a scallop diver by profession but also a shipwreck enthusiast when they were struggling to find it during numerous dives. He said: "This is a very significant find as there are not that many unaccounted for.

"There were two First World War subs found in the Orkney area last year but this is a real reward for the persistence of Jim and Martin. Everyone had been looking in the wrong place for so many years."

The U12 had been targeting cargo ships off the east coast of Britain and had been as far north as Peterhead. It had sunk a boat the previous night, but on 10 March, 1915, it was hunted down.

It attempted to dive, but was rammed by HMS Ariel. The submarine then surfaced and was being shelled by Acheron and Attack when it was realised the crew were surrendering.

However, the conning tower hatch jammed and 19 sailors drowned. There were ten survivors who got out of the other hatches.


How The Scotsman reported the sinking in 1915:



More detailed reports have now been received which establish the fact that the German submarine which was rammed and sunk by HMS Ariel was the U12 and that out of her crew of 28 the number saved was ten.