The wreck of a British World War II submarine which sank in 1942 with 71 servicemen on board has been discovered by an Italian diver off the coast of Sardinia, media reports said on Wednesday.
Massimo Domenico Bordone, dubbed the “wreck hunter”, spotted the ghostly wreck of the HMS P 311 as he swept an area 100 metres (328 feet) down off the northeast coast of Sardinia, near the island of Tavolara.
“Immediately I thought of the destiny of the men who met their deaths down there,” he told La Nuova Sardegna as he described Sunday’s find. “It was a fate shared by so many men, submariners in particular, on both sides of the conflict”.
The HMS P 311 set out from Malta on December 28 1942 on a destroyer mission. The crew had been charged with torpedoing the Italian battleships Trieste and Gorizia as they lay at anchor in La Maddalena, a port off Sardinia’s northern coast.
But the submarine disappeared without a trace after apparently hitting mines laid by the Italian navy to protect the island.
Local fisherman at the time reported hearing a loud rumble at night, according to La Nuova Sardegna, but the 84-metre-long T-class vessel was never found.
Bordone said it looked like only the submarine’s prow was damaged from the explosion, and it remained airtight as it sank.
“It looks like it probably went down with air sealed inside, leaving the crew to die eventually of oxygen deprivation,” he said.
The wreck boasted two Chariot manned torpedos, ready to be launched underwater to carry two navy divers into action.
The divers, known as frogmen, would enter enemy harbours on the Chariot and stick mines on enemy ships.