Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Divers discover U-boat wreckage
January 14, 2008
January 14, 2008
A German U-boat sunk off Scotland's coast more than 90 years ago has been discovered by two divers.
Jim MacLeod, of Bo'ness, and Martin Sinclair, from Falkirk, found the wreckage of the U12 about 25 miles from Eyemouth at the weekend.
They had been looking for the 60-metre U-boat for the past five years.
The precise location has now been reported to the German authorities as 19 sailors died in the sinking and relatives will be informed.
The site has been declared an official war grave and it will remain untouched.
Its final resting place was thought to have been found in 1984 by noted international historian Clive Cussler.
However, dives around the area proved fruitless.
The Scottish divers enlisted the help of a researcher who was able to get log books from destroyers HMS Ariel, Acheron and Attack involved in the sinking of the U12 to help pinpoint the site.
They then used Eyemouth firm Marine Quest Dive Charters to visit the location where they found the boat lying 150ft down on the seabed.
It was the first time the wreck had been visited since it was sunk in 1915.
"It has taken a lot of effort and perseverance but it has finally paid off," said Mr MacLeod.
"It was the first ever submarine to launch a plane at sea.
"We are delighted with the find."
Shipwreck expert Kevin Heath, from Stromness, Orkney, said it was an important discovery.
"The U12 had been targeting cargo ships off the east coast of Britain and had been as far north as Peterhead," he said.
"It had sunk a boat the previous night but on 10 March, 1915, it was hunted down by the three British destroyers HMS Ariel, Acheron and Attack.
"It attempted to dive under the surface but it was rammed by HMS Ariel."
The submarine then surfaced and was shelled by two of the destroyers and sank with the loss of 19 lives although there were 10 survivors.
"They surrendered but it led to a diplomatic incident," added Mr Heath.
"They were treated as pirates by the British for the way they were targeting cargo ships and put into solitary confinement.
"This angered the Germans who did the same with British prisoners of war and the situation had to be dealt with by the Swiss."