Wrecks off Zeebrugge identified as German U-boats from World War I

Two wrecks found off the coast of Zeebrugge have been identified as German submarines from World War I, Carl Decaluwé, the governor of West Flanders, announced at a press conference in Ostend on Monday.

The submarines had already been marked as wrecks on nautical charts, but until now, the type of vessel had not been known. Maritime archaeologist Thomas Termote has now been able to identify them as the U-5 and the U-14.

"It's important to identify these wrecks. The stories behind these finds are of historical importance," said Decaluwé. "It's also important for the deceased crew. We have contacted the German authorities. They are looking into whether family members need to be notified. It's nice that 100 years later, we can work together to complete these stories."

"It's important to identify these wrecks. The stories behind these finds are of historical importance"

The U-5 is the oldest submarine sunk in Belgian waters. It dates from 1910, is 57 m long and was fitted with four torpedo launchers. The submarine was thought to have hit a mine with all its crew. The wreck is still intact and well-preserved on the seabed.

The UC-14 was 34 m long and was built in 1915. It carried out 20 mine-laying operations off the British coast and sank six British naval trawlers. On 1 October 1917, it left the port of Zeebrugge for the last time. After its departure, it disappeared from the radar, and it is suspected that it hit a mine.

"Due to the remains, these are now sailors' graves," said Decaluwé. "The wrecks will remain, and we will propose some protective measures. I have also commissioned a scientific report."

There are more than 300 shipwrecks in Belgian waters. About 40 have yet to be identified.


#FlandersNewsService | Illustration © PHOTO TOPFOTO

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About belganewsagency.eu

Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels