Photo retrieved from CNN.

A German submarine that disappeared during World War I has recently been found off the coast of Scotland. The wreck, which is over 100-years-old, appears to have minimal damage. The discovery may be the wreckage of UB-85, which has been surrounded with nautical folklore for decades.

The legend surrounding the notorious UB-85 claims that the U-boat was attacked on April 30, 1918 by a sea beast while its batteries were being charged. Captain Gunther Krech, the commander of the U-boat, claimed that a “strange beast rose from the sea with large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull.” The creature was also described by Scottish Energy News as having “teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight.”

The legend holds that the crew fired at the monster and forced it to fall back into the sea. Krech reported that the U-boat was unable to submerge due to the damage caused by the attack; consequently, because of this damage, the crew was easily found on the water’s surface.

Gary Campbell, the keeper of the Official Sightings Register of the Loch Ness Monster, fully believes that the U-boat could have been attacked by a sea monster. Campbell says: “It is entirely feasible that some large sea creature disabled the submarine […] The area of sea where the attack took place has a history of sea monster sightings.”

However, official reports by the British military testify that the U-boat was sunk by a patrol boat, HMS Coreopsis. The reports state that the German crew peacefully surrendered, which came as a shock to the British crew on the patrol boat.

U-boats played a major role in WWI. This particular type of submarine was deployed to “disrupt trade by targeting the vessels bringing imports into Britain,” Laura Clouting told CNN. Clouting is a historian at Imperial War Museums. The submarine attacks were effective in the way that they were able to ensure that goods were imported to Britain from around the world. She claims this strategy was controversial, which caused Britain’s allies during the war to be angry and unsure of the tactics. America, in particular, felt as though the U-boats targeted boats with passengers rather than a military ship. Vessels became protected by Britain’s Royal Navy, which created challenging obstacles for U-boats in determining which boats carried goods and which carried weapons of war. This caused a decrease in German attacks against the allies’ ships that held goods.

Western Link, a project aiming to use renewable power from Scotland for homes and businesses in both England and Wales, found the U-boat wreckage. The Western Link project is owned by Scottish Power and National Grid. The marine engineers of the Western Link project discovered the wreckage while working on the billion-dollar project.

Historian and nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney has been working with Western Link to identify the recently found wreckage. He claims that: “In the waters of the Irish Sea there are at least 12 British and German submarines known to have sunk and potentially others whose actual sinking area remains a mystery. The features of this particular wreck, which is largely intact, confirm it as a UBIII-Class submarine, of which we know of two which were lost in the area – the UB-85 and its sister boat UB-82.” That considered, there may be a chance that the recovered U-boat is not actually the infamous UB-85. According to McCartney, the wreck is either the UB-85 or UB-82, but since the numbers painted on the sides of the boats are gone, it is almost impossible to find distinctions between the two.

Scottish Energy News released details about the wreckage: “The submarine wreck is approximately 120m north-west of the centre of the planned cable route, off the Stranraer coast.  The survey shows the vessel is largely intact and is approximately 45m long, with debris spilling out of the stern.” So far, no evidence found has led the team to be able to decipher which U-boat has been reclaimed.

Although many U-boats were sunk off UK coasts, the UB-85 disappearance has always been a mystery due to the circumstances in which the crew was apprehended. Whether the submarine was destroyed by a sea monster or suffered technical errors, the ongoing investigation of the recent discovery could provide insights into this particular class of U-boats.

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