Belgian authorities announced on Tuesday that they had discovered the remarkably well-preserved wreck of a World War I German submarine off the coast of West Flanders.
The UB II-type submarine was found 25-30 meters (82-98 feet) below the surface on the floor of the North Sea. About 18 such vessels were stationed with the Flanders Flotilla in Bruges between 1915 and 1918 in order to disrupt British trade routes in the English Channel and the North Sea.
Footage of the wreck shows the submarine almost perfectly intact. However, the vessel did sustain some damage at the front end where researchers believe it struck a mine. The conning tower is described as intact and the periscopes are still visible. Two torpedo tubes were found lying apart from the wreck.
"The submarine is in such good condition that we reckon all the bodies are still on board," said West Flanders Governor Carl Decaluwé who contacted the German ambassador to make arrangements for bodies of the deceased left aboard the boat. Eleven German submarines from the World War One period have been found in Belgian waters but this vessel is reported to be the best preserved of all.
Mr Decaluwé told reporters on Tuesday that the location of the wreck was being kept under wraps to prevent people going near it and to stop the submarine being looted or damaged.