Sunday, April 26, 2020


26 April 2020: Well, here we are again, sheltering (still) in place, bored out of our skulls [like so many of you out there we suspect!] but staying healthy. Washing hands, wearing protective masks (the efficacy of which for non-medical users has yet to be proven!) and trying not to lose what's left of our minds!
Today's post comes from a UK newspaper, The Express, and deals with a WWI submarine wreck, sunk, according to its skipper, by a sea monster!

The SM UB-85 was a U-boat used by the German Imperial Navy during World War 1, commissioned on November 24, 1917. On only its second patrol, the vessel was picked up by HMS Coreopsis II off the coast of Belfast, Ireland, in April 1918 after suffering partial flooding through a semi-open hatch while trying to evade attack by the British ship. The ingress of water could not be controlled, since cables for a heater in the officers' compartment had previously been laid through a watertight door and so the submarine was forced to be abandoned and the crew was taken captive as prisoners of war.

Under interrogation, the captain – Gunther Krech – is reported to have claimed the U-boat had surfaced the night before to recharge its batteries and had been attacked by a large sea creature that had damaged the vessel and left it unable to submerge. 

But, in October 2016, engineers working on underwater power cables off the coast of Stranraer, Scotland, found the wreckage on the seabed largely intact and sonar images later confirmed their suspicions.

Innes McCartney, a historian and nautical archaeologist, concluded the discovery helped reveal the truth of what really happened to UB-85.
He said in 2016: "In reality, the real sea monster was the U-boat trying to sink ships.
"The submarine was caught on the surface at night, recharging its batteries.
"It saw the patrol ship coming and it attempted to do a crash dive to get away.
"Once the submarine was underwater, it rapidly started flooding from above so they had no option but to blow all the compressed air they had, bring the submarine to the surface at which point all they could do was surrender."

The historian said tales of sea monsters and haunted U-boats came about due to secrecy surrounding exactly what happened during the first U-boat war which meant that period was "ripe for conspiracies".

He said the stories were often concocted as a result of journalists and ex-Navy men "talking late at night, after having a nice time".[ed: translation: several pints of ardent spirits]

Dr McCartney said there were at least 12 British and German submarines known to have sunk in the Irish Sea.
He added: "The features of this particular wreck, which is largely intact, confirm it as a UBIII-Class submarine, of which we know of two which were lost in the area – the more famous UB-85 and its sister boat UB-82.
"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.

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 its sinking - whether common mechanical failure or something that is less easily explained."

The historic discovery was made by engineers involved in the £1billion Western Link project to lay a subsea power line between Ayrshire and the Wirral.
The 3239 miles long cable carries renewable energy produced in Scotland to England and Wales.
The engineers found the wreckage 120 metres north-west of the centre of the planned route, off the Stranraer coast.
The vessel is about 45 metres long, with debris spilling from the stern.

That will do it for this week. We wish you all good health, stay safe, and wash your hands! And just to offer a heads up, we may be late next week as it is possible Maritime Maunder will be shifting to our "non-winter quarters."

Until next time, 
                                    Fair winds, 
                                          Old Salt

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