World War 1 Submarines Found by Anglian Sovereign

During her routine survey work as part of the MCA’s “Civil Hydrography Programme”, the MCA tug Anglian Sovereign has found two previously undiscovered wrecks of submarines, around 20 miles east of the Orkney Islands.  Research by experts Bobby Forbes, Michael Lowrey and Kevin Heath suggests that these are the wrecks of the two first world war submarines U92 and U102.

On May 23 1916 U-Boat U102’s commander, Curt Beitzen, took his then submarine U-75 on a deadly mission around the waters of Orkney and secretly laid a carpet of mines around the coastline. Less than a month later, the cruiser HMS Hampshire, carrying Secretary of War Lord Kitchener, ran into the mines and was lost at sea together with most of her crew. This was a major blow to the allies.


The U102 as found by the "Anglian Sovereign"


The U102 afloat

Beitzen later transferred to U102, which was on its way back home to Germany in autumn 1918 when it was lost with all 42 hands somewhere on the Northern Barrage – the deadly string of mine defences laid by the Royal Navy around Orkney and Shetland.  The U92 was lost in the same mine barrage within a week of the sinking of the U102.  The two U-boat wrecks lie two miles apart.

Following publicity of the U-boat finds, Matthias Löhr, a relative of Alfred Gerke, a machinery sergeant lost in the sinking of U102, contacted the MCA with more details and original photographs.  Matthias said “Until the discovery he (Alfred) was missed in action. Now, after 88 years his grave seems to be clear. You can imagine, I think, how highly emotionalized I was, when I got the message (of the discovery). For me a dream has become true!!”.

Most of the area surveyed by the Anglian Sovereign during 2006 has never been systematically surveyed before.  Data from the large area of seabed covered during the survey will be used to update UK nautical charts and publications and make them safer for future generations of seafarers.

Crew U102

Submarine crew with Alfred Gerke sitting front centre

View 3D sonar data

You can also download the Fledermaus "Scene" file of the sonar data obtained by the MCA of these two wrecks.
In order to do this, you will first need to install the free software programme "iView3d", obtainable here.