An Italian diver believes he has discovered the final resting place of a British submarine which sank off the coast of Sardinia during World War II.
Massimo Bondone says the bodies of the 71 crew members, who also vanished with the sub – HMS P311 – are still inside it, reports the Huffington Post.
Massimo told La Nuova Sardegna he found the P311 at a depth of roughly 80 meters off the island of Tavolara during a dive last weekend.
He told reporters the submarine reminded him of a ‘huge steel coffin’ saying:
It looks like it probably went down with the air sealed inside, leaving the crew to die eventually from oxygen deprivation.
Immediately I thought of the destiny of the men who met their deaths down there.
It was a fate shared by so many men, submariners in particular, on both sides of the conflict.
According to Paola Pegoraro from the Orso Diving Club, the sub was able to be identified by the two Chariot ‘human torpedoes’ attached to the outside.
A British Navy spokesman told the Associated Press:
We are examining our records to determine whether or not this is a Royal Navy submarine.
He went on to stress that if the wreck is the P311, then it belongs to Britain and any remains on board must be appropriately respected.
Records show that P311 left Malta in December 1942 with 71 crew on board to take part in Operation Principle – an Allied attack on Italian warships off Sardinia.
And according to NavalHistory.net:
Nothing was heard from her after 31st December and it is believed she was mined when attempting to pass through the Straits of Bonifacio.
An Italian coastguard official said there is a temporary ban on any activity in the area to respect the memory of the deceased until a decision is made.
However, Massimo said he hopes divers will eventually be allowed to explore near the wreck:
It is something worth seeing but with a respectful attitude towards those who met such a tragic fate.