French battleship sunk in 1917 found on Mediterranean Sea floor

February 20th, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 20 (ANI): In a survey for a gas pipeline between Algeria and Italy, a company has discovered a French battleship sunk in 1917, in remarkable condition on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.

According to a report by BBC News, the ship, known as The Danton, with many of its gun turrets still intact, is sitting upright in over 1,000m of water.

It was found by the Fugro geosciences company during a survey for a gas pipeline between Algeria and Italy.

The Danton, which sank with 296 sailors still onboard, lies 35km southwest of the island of Sardinia.

The ship, named after the French revolutionary Georges Danton, was 19,000-tonne, and 150 m-long; and was carrying over 1,000 men when it was attacked by Germanys U-64 submarine at 1317 on 18 March, 1917.

Naval historians record that the Dantons Captain Delage stood on the bridge with his officers and made no attempt to leave the ship as it went down.

The ship dug out the sediment as it hit the seafloor. Despite tumbling through the water, many guns stayed in place.

Its condition is extraordinary, said Rob Hawkins, project director with Fugro GeoConsulting Limited.

After it was hit by the torpedoes, the Danton clearly turned turtle and rotated several times. You can see where it dropped some infrastructure on the way down and then impacted on the seabed, according to Hawkins.

You can see where it slid along the seabed before coming to a rest, he told BBC News.

A comparison with the original plans for the battleship - in particular, the position of its 240mm guns - confirms the wrecks identity.

The final resting place is a few kilometers from where people have traditionally thought the ship met its end.

The wreck is just off the point where the southern pipeline meets Sardina.

The French Admiralty did argue with us for a while that it should have been several nautical miles away, but we reminded them that modern GPS methods are more accurate than the sextants they used in those days, said Hawkins.

Analysis of the Dantons debris field suggests the battleship landed at the bed from the northwest.

As a consequence, a decision was taken to offset the 66cm-diameter pipeline by 300m to the southeast of the wreck location, thus avoiding any obvious structural items that had fallen clear of the vessel during its descent and forward of any sediment kicked up in the bed impact. (ANI)

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