Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military United Kingdom Technology

Sunken WWI U-Boats a Bonanza For Historians 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the dive-dive-dive dept.
schwit1 writes "Archaeologists have found the rusting remains of 44 submarines off the United Kingdom's coast, an oceanic graveyard made up mostly of vessels from the German Imperial Navy dating to World War I. Der Spiegel reports a quartet of divers are now at work probing the massive trove of 41 German U-boats, and a trio of English submarines, found at depths of up to 50 feet, off England's southern and eastern coasts. 'We owe it to these people to tell their story.' says archaeologist Mark Dunkley."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sunken WWI U-Boats a Bonanza For Historians

Comments Filter:
  • UB 40 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Longjmp (632577) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @06:36PM (#44345671)
    From the article:

    Dunkley and his team of divers found UB 17 off England's east coast, [...]

    Let me know when they find UB 40 ...

  • To all our soldiers who fought and suffered in that war a few more sunken U-Boats would feel better yet. Wretched wars that did nothing but evil should never have existed.

    • by number11 (129686)

      To all our soldiers who fought and suffered in that war a few more sunken U-Boats would feel better yet. Wretched wars that did nothing but evil should never have existed.

      For certain values of "our".

      Most wars do nothing but evil.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Archaeologists"...!?
    I am Greek living in Greece and i feel insulted - and i am sure some very old people who were born during WW1 and are still alive are feeling the same as me.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      My grandfather fought in WWI and was born in 1899, and died 1985. Were he alive, what possible reason would exist for him to feel insulted?
    • I am Greek living in Greece and i feel insulted

      As well you should, but not for this particular reason.

    • we?

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:41PM (#44346837)

      "Archaeologists"...!? I am Greek living in Greece and i feel insulted - and i am sure some very old people who were born during WW1 and are still alive are feeling the same as me.

      Perhaps a person trained to dig through ancients ruins and reconstruct history is also the best qualified person to dig through modern ruins and reconstruct history. Perhaps archeological techniques and best practices developed over the centuries at ancient historical sites can be applied to modern historical sites as well. Are archaeologists somehow unfit to work at a modern historical site merely because that is not their traditional use?

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      "Archaeologists"...!?
      I am Greek living in Greece and i feel insulted - and i am sure some very old people who were born during WW1 and are still alive are feeling the same as me.

      you're greek. isn't your whole bit feeling insulted, no matter if the subject of the matter is something as simple as your team losing in womens football league match... who the fuck do you think should have digged them up, doctors ?? it's just a job title.

    • by jeremyp (130771)

      Why do you feel insulted? Archaeologists frequently dig relatively modern sites. There's no reason to get insulted about it.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @07:34PM (#44345975) Homepage

    Wow. Only 15m down, off the east coast of England, and nobody noticed before? I'm surprised someone fishing didn't notice.

    • Someone fishing probably did notice. They'd be providing habitats that are attractive to fish, after all. They probably just didn't tell anyone so they could keep the best fishing spots for themselves.

    • by dbc (135354) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @08:08PM (#44346151)

      That probably says a lot about how pleasant sport diving is off the North East coast of England. Let's see...... Grand Cayman, or the North Sea.... think think....

    • Notice? Sure. Care? Why?

  • by nimbius (983462) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @07:39PM (#44346003) Homepage
    im sure they could correlate a wealth of information by looking at german communications station logs from these vessels to determine the exact time and date of their demise

    "day 15, we remain undetected off the enemy coastline. I dont know how the allies have patrolled so long and hard without fiWF##$(_NO CARRIER"
    • by plopez (54068)

      I think they were scuttled after the Brits took them as war prizes.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        You're probably thinking of the German Imperial Fleet, which was seized, interned at Scapa Flow, and scuttled by the sailors to prevent them from being used by the British Navy. They remain one of the country's (if not world's) best diving sites. Poor visibility and cold water notwithstanding.

        Though I do admit to wondering how such a concentration of vessels came to be. It does sound like a deliberate scuttling.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)
      More likely : "Submarine U-47 did not call in today with it's weather report. It is assumed lost."
      "Submarine U-48 did not call in today with it's weather report. It is assumed lost."
      "Submarine U-49 did not call in today with it's weather report. It is assumed lost."
      "Submarine U-50 did not call in today with it's weather report. It is assumed lost."

      (Weather reports, because of their predictability, were one of the keys that the Bletchley Park code-breakers used to get the day's settings for Enigma one wa

  • "Race against time" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @08:01PM (#44346115)
    I love how they call it a "race against time". 100 hundred years underwater, and it's in bad shape, but some small amount of extra time, and all will be lost.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Things don't decay linearly. They visibly look okay for a long time, and then suddenly fall to pieces as the underlying structure finally gives up.

      Iron ships sunk not very deep, especially.

    • by alannon (54117)
      You didn't read the article very carefully. In not very long (100 years after the wrecks), the sites become UNESCO heritage sites and it will become very, very difficult to study them. That is why it's a 'race against time'.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        No I didn't read carefully enough. Seems they were avoiding direct wording. "If we don't commercially exploit these in the next few years, they'll belong to everyone, and communism is bad" wasn't directly stated. There was an implication that it was from the state of the find, and I was even corrected by someone above that it was the state of the find, so it must not have been that clear that it was a race to beat maritime law and exploit them before they become protected.
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          There was an implication that it was from the state of the find, and I was even corrected by someone above that it was the state of the find, so it must not have been that clear that it was a race to beat maritime law and exploit them before they become protected.

          Since it is very likely that at least some of these vessels are war graves, then "exploiting" them is likely to carry jail time as a penalty already.

  • Seems like something that shallow would have been found a long time ago.

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      The Hunley lay at half that depth for 130 years.

    • Kind of scary how shallow they could go. With a sub height of about 21 feet, that's about 15 feet of water above and below which doesn't leave a lot of margin for error.
  • Sites of sunken WW2 U-boats (and other warships of all nations) are treated as war graves with a prohibition against entering or disturbing. Why would WW1 sites be treated any differently?

    How old would such wrecks have to be before skeletons would be treated as just skeletons? Most likely nobody would have any scruples nosing around wrecks of Norse longboats of 1,000 years ago, or if that is not the case, how about Greek ships from BCE?

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Aircraft automatically get that status. Sea ships or U-Boats have to be designated under the protection of military remains act [wikipedia.org]

      Still... this act doesn't exclude archaeology; it just means that special restrictions and permitting requirements apply.

  • It bears reminding that wreck diving costs money, and is fun.

    Make a historically entertaining case for sponsorship then have at it.

    Wrecks are somehow more interesting to the public than the same or similar vessels preserved on land.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @09:02PM (#44346411)

    Surviving submarine commanders, and Admiral Doenitz who commanded them, wrote memoirs.

    There are plenty of first-hand accounts of submarine warfare from participants. They are in dead-tree media but still available.

    Also very interesting are accounts of commerce raiders and Q-ships in both wars.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:59PM (#44346919)

      Surviving submarine commanders, and Admiral Doenitz who commanded them, wrote memoirs. There are plenty of first-hand accounts of submarine warfare from participants. They are in dead-tree media but still available. Also very interesting are accounts of commerce raiders and Q-ships in both wars.

      Its not U-boat history in general that is being referred to. It is the specific history of these boats, the specific story of these crewman. I once visited the submariner's memorial at Pearl Harbor. It lists the U.S. submarines that fought in the Pacific during WW2. A bunch of submarines were lost. Some of these were marked as "sunk", some of these were marked as "overdue, presumed lost". To many people there is something unfinished, something sadder, about "overdue, presumed lost". Moving a ship and crew from the "overdue, presumed lost" list to the "sunk" list, giving a location, is meaningful. Especially to family members.

      • A bunch of submarines were lost. Some of these were marked as "sunk", some of these were marked as "overdue, presumed lost". To many people there is something unfinished, something sadder, about "overdue, presumed lost".

        FWIW, to the Brothers of the 'Phin, they're all the same - they're all our brothers on Enternal Patrol.

        Moving a ship and crew from the "overdue, presumed lost" list to the "sunk" list, giving a location, is meaningful. Especially to family members.

        That's why so many have been found

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Keeping it real, warships are MUCH sexier than the merchant ships they sank and the entertainment value of submarine crews actions (most of the family members who actually KNEW them are either elderly or dead by now) is greater than that of the crew of some forgotten oiler or collier or cargo ship they sent down with all hands.

        http://www.usmm.org/shipsunkdamaged.html [usmm.org]

        http://www.worldnavalships.com/merchant_navy_losses.htm [worldnavalships.com]

        http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/history/other/sea/secondfleet [veterans.gc.ca]

        • by perpenso (1613749)
          The positions of the merchant ships sunk were generally known, at least after the war. Family and friends could learn of the "burial site". For those sites sufficiently close to a coast it was not unheard of for someone to go out there in a boat and lay a wreath or some flowers on the water. Or have the wreath/flowers air dropped on the site.

          The families of those listed as "overdue, presumed lost" did not have this minor comfort. Given the extreme close proximity to shore of these newly discovered subs t
    • That's just Archaeologists speaking. They don't believe anything unless they dug it out of the ground themselves.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

Working...