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Wreckage of World War I German U-boat sunk CENTURIES ago is found by diver off the coast of Virginia

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Wreckage of World War I German U-boat that sank a CENTURY and was thought to have been lost forever in deep waters has been found off the coast of Virginia

  • The wreckage of a long-lost World War I German U-boat was recently found off the coast of Virginia
  • Technical diver and shipwreck enthusiast Erik Petkovic spotted the remains of the ship aboard a boat about 40 miles off the coast of Virginia
  • The SM U-111 was a 235-foot ship that sank three Allied merchant ships during World War I and was eventually captured and sunk by the United States Navy in August 1922.

The wreckage of a long-lost World War I German U-boat that sank a century ago was discovered by a quest diver off the coast of Virginia.

The SM U-111, a 235-foot vessel that sank three Allied merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean during its time with the German Imperial Navy, sank on August 31, 1922 in waters the United States Navy said were 1,600 feet deep.

During Labor Day, diver Erik Petkovic was aboard the R/V Explorer about 40 miles off the coast of Virginia, looking at a video monitor attached to a remote-controlled vehicle searching 400 feet below when he shouted, “That’s right.” the! There it is!’

ABOVE: An open hatch on U-111’s conning tower reveals an interior ladder

ABOVE: A deck gun on U-111 with the remote-controlled vehicle's tool claw in the foreground

ABOVE: A deck gun on U-111 with the remote-controlled vehicle’s tool claw in the foreground

ABOVE: The first images of U-111 from June 2022 show some of it covered in fishing nets.  The wreck is accessible to underwater robots and a small number of technical divers.

ABOVE: The first images of U-111 from June 2022 show some of it covered in fishing nets. The wreck is accessible to underwater robots and a small number of technical divers.

The shipwreck enthusiast started diving as a teenager and was inspired by Robert Ballard’s discovery of the Titanic in 1985, according to a report in National Geographicbefore becoming an accomplished technical diver and writing books on exploring shipwrecks.

After the end of the war, all seaworthy boats that had been captured were sent to England. Most were used for scrap, but a few were kept for the Allies to take over so they could learn more about German diesel engine technology.

An American crew made it across the Atlantic on a perilous journey that required the frigid waters where the RMS Titanic had sunk seven years earlier, the publication reports.

“It’s one of those remarkable lost chances of survival,” Petkovic told National Geographic.

Maryland-born Petkovic is one of the few “technical divers” to explore depths much deeper than the standard 120-foot limit that recreational divers observe.

In June 1921, when U-111 was towed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to be used as an aerial bombing target, it began to soak up water.

The ship sank in 35 feet of water about five miles off the coast of Cape Henry, Virginia. However, it was so shallow that the stern of the boat protruded above the surface of the water.

The US Navy brought the boat in to pump out the water and floated it one last time for its final trip to sea.

On August 31, 1922, U-111 was sunk when the boat’s hatches were opened and the USS Falcon fired a depth charge next to it.

All members of the R/V Explorer crew are volunteers who choose to spend their time and money exploring their passion for shipwreck diving.

ABOVE: The deck of the U-boat with the conning tower in the background

ABOVE: The deck of the U-boat with the conning tower in the background

ABOVE: The custom R/V Explorer is anchored over the site of U-111 on Labor Day 2022. All team members are volunteers with a passion for wreck diving.

ABOVE: The custom R/V Explorer is anchored over the site of U-111 on Labor Day 2022. All team members are volunteers with a passion for wreck diving.

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