Friday, November 24, 2006

Undersea wrecks of 2 WWI German U boats found

November 24, 2006

Marine archaeologists have discovered the wrecks of two WWI era German U-boats of the coast of Orkney.

Orkney consists of about 20 inhabited islands plus 50 others, and is about 10 miles north of Caithness in northern mainland Scotland.

The two U boasts were reported missing in the area in 1918.

According to historians and experts at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), one of the U boats was commanded by Commander Kurt Beitzen, who had mined and sunk HMS Hampshire carrying Lord Kitchener in 1916.

"One of the subs it seems was commanded by quite a famous commander - the man who sunk the ship that Lord Kitchener was on - so this is his watery grave so to speak," BBC quoted Rob Spillard, hydrography manager for the MCA as saying.

He said plans of the two U-boats have also been examined by experts, and have been identified as the wrecks of U-92 and U-102, commanded by Commander Beitzen. Both were believed to have been sunk by a series of mines, he added.

He said after sinking HMS Hampshire, Commander Beitzen transferred to U-102, which sank with all 42 hands on board in the autumn of 1918, while on its way back to Germany.

According to archival records, on May 23, 1916, U-75 laid mines under the control of Commander Beitzen after travelling around the west coast of Orkney undetected. Less than a month later the head of the war ministry, Lord Kitchener, was lost at sea together with many of the crew of the cruiser HMS Hampshire after striking mines.

Spillard said the MCA discovered the wrecks about 70 miles off Sanday Sound by chance during a routine sonar survey.



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