The remains of what is believed to be UB-85, the vessel at the centre of one of the war’s strangest naval mysteries, were found by engineers surveying the sea bed off the coast of Stranraer in preparation for an enormous subsea power cable.
Scottish Power Sonar images show the 45-metre-long vessel, which was sunk by British patrol boat HMS Coreopsis after rising to the ocean’s surface on 30 April 1918, is still largely intact almost a century later.
According to maritime legend, after he and his crew surrendered to the British, the U-boat’s captain Gunther Krech told his captors the submarine had been unable to dive beneath the surface after being damaged during a terrifying encounter with a sea monster.
He is said to have described a “beast” with “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull”, with “teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight”.
Although he and his men survived the encounter after firing at the creature, Captain Krech said the forward deck plating of the submarine was damaged and prevented them from submerging – allowing them to be picked off by the British.
Innes McCartney, a historian and nautical archaeologist, said the outline of the wreck suggests it is either the famous boat or its lesser-known sister UB-82, which sank in the same area during the war.
“While I can conclude that this wreck is likely to be one or the other, they would be practically impossible to tell apart, aside from the numbers painted on them in service, now obviously long gone,” he said.
“Unless a diver can find a shipyard stamp, we cannot say definitively but yes, we’re certainly closer to solving the so-called mystery of UB-85 and the reason behind it’s sinking – whether common mechanical failure or something that is less easily explained.”
The discovery was made during preparations for the Western Link project, a £1bn joint venture between Scottish Power and National Grid which will take renewable power from Scotland to England and Wales viaa 385km-long subsea cable.
When complete, the cable will be the longest of its type in the world and will run from Ardneil Bay in North Ayrshire to the Wirral peninsula in north west England.
“In all the years I have been building power lines, I can say that this is the most extraordinary discovery,” said Scottish Power’s Peter Roper. “The story behind the submarine is also fascinating. Thankfully we have had no monster-related health and safety incidents on the project yet.”
This story first appeared on our sister site, iNews