Wreck of submarine sunk on Christmas Day 1917 – now protected
In 2018 the Bangor University marine survey team discovered the German submarine U-87 in Welsh waters off Bardsey Island. The wreck has recently been designated a ‘protected site’ under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (Designation of Vessels and Controlled Sites) Order 2019. The site can now be visited by divers, but on a ‘look but don’t touch or enter’ basis.
Sunk off Bardsey Island on Christmas Day 1917 with 43 men on board
On Christmas Day 1917, U-87 attacked a convoy in St George’s Channel (in particular, the British steamship AGBERI). One of the convoy escorts, HMS P56, was just 150 yards away from the AGBERI when it was struck, and it turned to ram the submarine while another escort, the BUTTERCUP, fired and hit its conning tower. Within 10 minutes the submarine had sunk. Some witness accounts claim that the stricken U-boat was sliced clean in half, and that the bow section remained afloat for ten minutes with men visible within the submarine.
Despite the eye-witnesses accounts, the new survey images of the stricken U-boat show it lying entire on the seabed. Although the U-boat had been fatally holed, it sank to the seabed without breaking up. In the image the large cut in the hull made by HMS P56 can be seen slanting back to the conning tower. The crew did not escape and so there is a special poignancy to recognising that we are viewing a war grave, perhaps for the very first time in over a hundred years.
Read more about the submarine U-87 here: https://uboatproject.wales/wrecks/u-87/
Watch the animated film reconstruction of her sinking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSW8N1tkhwU