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  1. ITV Report

WWI submarine which was 'attacked by strange beast' found

A sonar scan of the submarine. Credit: Scottish Power

The wreckage of a German U-boat sunk during the First World War has been found off the coast of Stranraer.

Engineers working for Scottish Power made the discovery while carrying out a £1 billion project to lay subsea power cables between Scotland and England.

Sonar images show the 100-year-old vessel is largely intact, and attempts to identify the wreck have led experts to conclude that it may be that of UB-85, which is part of a remarkable World War One mystery.

According to folklore, it was attacked by a sea monster while prowling Scotland's coastline.

The submarine is marked with a black star on this map. Credit: United Kingdom Hydrographic Office

Official reports from the time say that UB-85 was caught on the surface on 30 April 1918, and sunk by British patrol boat the HMS Coreopsis after the German crew surrendered without resistance.

However, an old sea tale suggests there's more to the story than meets the eye.

When questioned about why they were on the surface, the U-boat's commander, Captain Krech, is said to have told that they had been recharging their batteries at night when a "strange beast" emerged from the sea.

He described it as having “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight".

The captain is believed to have recounted how "every man on watch began firing a sidearm at the beast", which eventually dropped back into the sea.

But in the struggle the forward deck plating had been damaged, and the U-boat could no longer submerge.

Innes McCartney, a historian and nautical archaeologist who worked with Scottish Power to try to identify the wreck, has concluded it is likely to be UB-85 or its sister boat UB-82.

He may not believe the old sea tale, but Gary Campbell, keeper of the Official Sightings Register of the Loch Ness Monster, does:

History has shown that there have been consistent reports of large ‘monsters’ not just in lakes and lochs like Loch Ness but out in open waters as well. For many years the giant squid was known as the fearsome Kraken and given the size of the oceans, it wouldn’t be a surprise if many large species were still to be discovered.

The area of sea where the attack took place has a history of sea monster sightings – they have ranged from the north coast of Wales to Liverpool bay. What the German Captain said could well be true.

It’s great to see how Nessie’s saltwater cousin clearly got involved in helping with the war effort – she even managed to do the damage without anyone being killed.

– Gary Campbell, keeper of the Official Sightings Register of the Loch Ness Monster

The subsea marine cable the engineers are laying is around 385km long, and it will run from Ardneil Bay in North Ayrshire to the Wirral peninsula in north west England.

The submarine wreck is approximately 120m north-west of the centre of the planned cable route, off the Stranraer coast.

The survey shows the vessel is largely intact and is approximately 45m long, with debris spilling out of the stern end.