German submarine lost during WWI found off Dutch coast

March 16th, 2011 - 3:50 pm ICT by BNO News  

AMSTERDAM/BERLIN (BNO NEWS) — The Dutch Navy has discovered a German submarine which was lost along with its more than 40 crew members during World War One, the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday.

The Ministry said the missing SM U-106 submarine was found about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of the Dutch island of Terschelling. It was discovered by the Navy vessel Hr. Ms. Snellius in October 2009, but its discovery was not announced until Wednesday.

“The news is only now released because the information had to be confirmed by German authorities and, where possible, relatives informed,” the Ministry said in a statement.

In October 2009, the Hr. Ms. Snellius reported finding an unknown object while trying to map out water routes. Two months later, a second Navy vessel examined the site with an underwater camera, which showed what appeared to be the remains of a submarine.

Several months later, in February 2010, another Navy vessel again examined the site and was able to recover a large cylindrical air tank. The tank had several serial numbers that were registered to the SM U-106 submarine, which went missing in the region in 1917.

“These kinds of discoveries pretty much always happen by chance,” said Jouke Spoelstra, who led the identification project. “About ten years ago, a ship of the hydrographic service also passed this place but the wreckage was under a layer of sand at the time.”

The Dutch Defense Ministry said German authorities have searched for relatives of the victims and where possible informed them. “The ship will stay where it is and will be designated as an official war grave,” Spoelstra said. “It could be possible that there will be a memorial service at sea, but that would only happen at the request of the relatives.”

The SM U-106 was under the command of Captain Lieutenant Hans Hufnagel and was part of the Fourth Submarine Flotilla which left the seaport of Emden on September 8, 1917 for a patrol southwest of Ireland. During the journey, the flotilla sunk the British destroyer HMS Contest and cargo ship S.S. City of Lincoln.

About a month later, the flotilla went back to Emden on a route which brought it north of Terschelling. Contact with the SM U-106 was lost on October 7, however, when it hit a mine. All 41 crew members were killed.

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