A group of local divers will this summer attempt to place a memorial plaque at the wreck of a German U-Boat, which sank near the island’s territorial waters
U-246 lies southwest of the island between here and Anglesey, and is relatively intact with all of its 48 crew members believed to be inside.
It is one of two German submarine wrecks from which the nearest landmass is the island – the other, U-1024 was recently rediscovered by a survey ship operating out of Douglas, as it carried out mapping for planned wind farms.
Shipwreck researcher Adrian Corkhill was contacted by Josef Schroer, whose great uncle Johannes Huls, 32, was one of the German sailors lost on board U-246.
A team of divers from Port Erin-based company Discover Diving will be venturing out on a boat to the wreck site in late July, and depending on weather, are hoping to be able to bring Josef and his father with them.
Adrian, who is the author of Shipwrecks of the Isle of Man, was among the researchers who revealed the fate of U-246 – as having been depth-charged by anti-submarine trawler HMS Lady Madeleine, operating out of Fleetwood in 1945.
The Port Erin resident has previously dived down 42 metres to see U-246 for himself.
Adrian described how there was visible damage to the hull from the explosives, having been depth charged twice.
This was first by the trawler, and then a second time by two Royal Navy destroyers and a seaplane – which detected the sonar ping from the sunken U-boat.
Adrian explained that it was standard practice for naval ships to depth charge any sonar pings, even if the source was not moving – because U-boats that were being hunted would often lie stationary near the seabed to imitate a wreck and escape.
This last depth-charge strike threw up a pair of socks marked ‘Schaaf’, confirming that an enemy vessel had been hit.
Also still visible on the wreck are the torpedo tubes and torpedoes, and the conning tower with its snorkel and periscope.
‘It certainly has a big impact on you, and also emotionally – because it is in effect a war grave,’ Adrian said.
Adrian is currently working with Manx National Heritage to make his database of nearly 2,000 shipwreck locations around the island available to the public as an online resource.