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Wreck of World War I German U-boat that sunk a CENTURY ago is found by diver off Virginia’s coast

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Wreck of World War I German U-boat that sunk a CENTURY ago – considered lost perpetually – is found off Virginia’s coast

  • The wreckage of a long-lost World War I German U-boat was found off the coast of Virginia recently 
  • Technical diver and shipwreck enthusiast Erik Petkovic spotted the ship’s remnants while on board a ship about 40 miles off Virginia’s coast 
  • The SM U-111 was a 235-foot ship that sank three Allied merchant ships during WW I and was eventually captured and sunk by the US Navy in August 1922 

The wreck of a long-lost World War I German U-boat that sank a century ago was discovered by a sleuthing diver off the coast of Virginia. 

The SM U-111, which was a 235-foot ship that sank three Allied merchant ships within the Atlantic Ocean during its time with the German Imperial Navy, sank on August 31, 1922 in waters that U.S. Navy said were 1,600 feet deep.

Over Labor Day, diver Erik Petkovic was on board the R/V Explorer about 40 miles off Virginia’s coast peering right into a video monitor linked to a remotely operated vehicle searching 400 feet below when he yelled out: ‘That is it! There it’s!’

ABOVE: An open hatch on the conning tower of U-111 shows an interior ladder

ABOVE: A deck gun mount on U-111 with the utility claw of the remote operated vehicle in the foreground

ABOVE: A deck gun mount on U-111 with the utility claw of the distant operated vehicle within the foreground

ABOVE: The first footage of the U-111 from June 2022 shows a portion of it covered in fishing nets. The wreck is accessible by underwater robots and a small number of technical divers.

ABOVE: The primary footage of the U-111 from June 2022 shows a portion of it covered in fishing nets. The wreck is accessible by underwater robots and a small variety of technical divers. 

The shipwreck enthusiast began diving as a teen and have become inspired by Robert Ballard’s discovery of Titanic in 1985, in line with a report in National Geographic, before becoming an completed technical diver and authoring books on shipwreck exploration. 

After the war ended, any sea-worthy boats that had been captured were sent to England. Most were used for scrap but a number of were saved for Allied forces to choose over in order that they might study Germany’s diesel engine technology.

An American crew brought it across the Atlantic Ocean in a dangerous voyage that required navigating icy waters where the R.M.S. Titanic had sunk seven years before, the publication reports.

‘It’s one among those remarkable lost takes of survival,’ Petkovic told National Geographic.  

Maryland-native Petkovic is one among small variety of ‘technical divers’ who explore depths which are far deeper than the usual 120-foot limit that recreational divers observe.  

In June 1921, while being towed from Portsmouth, Latest Hampshire for use as a goal for aerial bombing, the U-111 began to tackle water.

The ship sank in 35 feet of water about three miles off the coast of Cape Henry, Virginia. Nevertheless, that was so shallow that the boat’s stern was protruding from the water’s surface. 

The U.S. Navy brought the boat in to pump out the water and refloated it another time before its final journey out to sea.

On August 31, 1922 the U-111 was sunk when the boat’s hatches were opened and the united statesFalcon set off a depth charge next to it. 

All members of the R/V Explorer crew are volunteers who decide to spend their money and time to explore their passion for shipwreck diving.  

ABOVE: The deck of the U-boat with the conning tower rising in the background

ABOVE: The deck of the U-boat with the conning tower rising within the background

ABOVE: The custom-built R/V Explorer sits anchored over the site of U-111 on Labor Day 2022. All of the team members are volunteers who have a passion for wreck diving.

ABOVE: The custom-built R/V Explorer sits anchored over the location of U-111 on Labor Day 2022. The entire team members are volunteers who’ve a passion for wreck diving. 

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