Side scan sonar survey of submarine U-8, showing conning tower, radio masts and periscope (Image © Historic England)

UK protects German U-boat wreck in the Channel

Posted on centenarynews.com on 02 August 2016
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The wreck of a German submarine sunk in the Channel in 1915 has been given protected status by the British Government. 

Heritage experts Historic England say the move will help efforts to preserve U-8's rusting hull and prevent uncontrolled salvage.

100 years after the Great War, the submarine is said to be still in 'excellent condition', although missing its propellers.

As reported in Centenary News last year, one of U-8's propellers was recovered and presented to the German Navy in June 2015 as a goodwill gesture.

The protection order is part of a wider Historic England project by to investigate the locations of 11 known submarine losses in English territorial waters during the First World War.

Conservationists wants to get a better understanding of the condition of the wrecks, and in particular the impact of oceanic climate change, with the aim of slowing down corrosion.

Acoustic multibeam image of U-8, with the hull sitting proud of the surrounding seabed (Image © Historic England)

U-8 was snared in submarine nets off Folkestone in March 1915 and forced to surface after being hit by a charge from the British destroyer, HMS Gurkha.

All the crew were captured, taken ashore and marched through Dover to its historic castle overlooking the White Cliffs.

Gunfire from another destroyer, HMS Maori, sank the submarine - making it an early casualty of the Royal Navy's Dover Patrol, formed to stop German U-boats slipping through the Channel to the Atlantic Ocean.

Mark Dunkley, Maritime Designation Adviser for Historic England, said: "The U-8’s design and construction, complete with six torpedos, marked a turning point in submarine development.

"The Type U-5 boats were superior to allied submarines both in fighting ability and seaworthiness. The U-8 sits upright on the seabed in excellent condition and you can still see its periscopes, radio masts attached."

A rare British A-class submarine lost off Dorset in 1912, after being accidentally rammed by another Royal Navy vessel, has also been protected on advice from Historic England.

Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said: "The UK has a long and proud maritime heritage and these wreck sites tell an important story about our past.

"As we mark the centenary of the First World War, it is fitting that we remember the role of the wider war at sea and I am excited that these sites will be protected for years to come."

Images © Historic England

Posted by: CN Editorial Team