Wed 19 Jul 2006
Divers discover World War One sub off Lothian coast
ANDREW PICKEN (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An intact First World War submarine has been discovered in deep waters off Eyemouth after divers initially mistook it for a sunken fishing trawler.
Divers from Edinburgh and South Queensferry were part of an expedition that found the wreck virtually unscathed despite lying 200ft down on the floor of the North Sea for more than 85 years.
It is thought to be a British submarine known as the H11, which was lost in 1920 while under tow.
Members of the South Queensferry Sub Aqua Club (SQSAC) are awaiting confirmation from the Royal Navy that the submarine was not manned before they carry out further investigations of the torpedo-carrying vessel.
Stevie Adams, 43, a BT engineer from South Queensferry, who is the SQSAC's diving officer, said four members of the club were among the party who discovered the wreck earlier this month.
He said: "We initially thought it was a trawler and because visibility was poor on our first trip we couldn't decipher exactly what it was.
"We managed to get down again and this time it was much clearer, and to our amazement we found this great big submarine. We think it was being towed to be scrapped before it sank.
"What we don't know is if there was any crew on board so we are waiting for the Admiralty to get back to us on that before we go poking about any further.
"It just amazes me that it has sat there for so long, in such a good condition, and nobody knew about it.
"The difficult part is the onshore detective work but we have a few people working on that."
The submarine is around five metres tall and 45 metres long and is lying on her port side with the bows clear of the seabed.
There is little damage to the submarine with the conning tower, periscopes and hatches in good condition according to Mr Adams.
Iain Easingwood, who runs the Marine Quest Boat Charter in Eyemouth which took the divers out to the submarine, said the wreck was known about locally.
He said: "My dad was a fisherman for over 40 years in these waters and he was always getting his nets caught around this spot so we knew there was something there. It was always assumed it was a trawler but to find out it was a submarine, and in such good condition, is just amazing.
"When they all came back up and told us what had happened they were understandably excited at what they had discovered and I think we'll back to find out more about it."
Mr Easingwood estimates there are at least another 20 wrecks in the area that have still to be explored by divers.
The H11 was reported as possibly being lost while under tow although other maritime records indicate she was also scrapped that year with no note of ever being lost.
Experts at the Submarine Museum in Gosport and navy officials are looking into the discovery to try and shed more light on the vessel's past.
The H11 was built in the United States and was released to British forces when the Americans joined the war in 1917.
World War One