Marine engineers working on the Western Link project, a subsea power cable between Scotland and England, have found the wreck of a German U-boat while surveying the seabed off the coast of Wigtownshire.
After capturing sonar images of the 100-year-old vessel, attempts to identify the wreck have led experts to conclude that it may be that of UB-85, a submarine that, according to folklore, was attacked by a sea monster while prowling Scotland’s coastline towards the end of World War I, ScottishPower informed.
Official reports from the time tell how UB-85 was caught on the surface during the day of April 30, 1918, and sunk by a British patrol boat – the HMS Coreopsis.
However, another story has long been associated with the U-boat and its commander, Captain Krech. When questioned about why he had been cruising on the surface, he told how the sub had been recharging batteries at night when a “strange beast” rose from the sea. He described a “beast” with “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight”.
Krech is believed to have said that the battle with the “beast” continued until the animal dropped back into the sea. In the struggle the forward deck plating had been damaged and the sub could no longer submerge. The Captain said that was the main reason why his crew was caught on surface, ScottishPower noted.
Innes McCartney, a historian and nautical archaeologist who has been working with the Western Link team said: “In the waters of the Irish Sea there are at least 12 British and German submarines known to have sunk and potentially others whose actual sinking area remains a mystery. 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 it’s sinking – whether common mechanical failure or something that is less easily explained.”
Gary Campbell, keeper of the Official Sightings Register of the Loch Ness monster, said: “It is entirely feasible that some large sea creature disabled the submarine. The WWI report from the Captain of the British ship HMS Hilary a year earlier makes it clear that sea farers at that time were well aware of large sea ‘monsters’ that could be harmful to their ships.
“History has shown that there have been consistent reports of large ‘monsters’ not just in lakes and lochs like Loch Ness but out in open waters as well.”
Peter Roper, of Western Link partner ScottishPower, said: “The images we get back from the subsea scans are incredibly detailed, but we obviously need to be aware of what lies beneath before we can start laying a power cable. In all the years I have been building power lines, I can say that this is the most extraordinary discovery.”
The subsea marine cable is around 385 km long, and when in place it will run from Ardneil Bay in North Ayrshire in Scotland to the Wirral peninsula in north west England.
The submarine wreck is approximately 120 meters north-west of the centre of the planned cable route, off the Stranraer coast. The survey shows the vessel is largely intact and is approximately 45 meters long.