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Valhalla team identify World War One German U-boat off Shetland



A team of divers operating from the Valhalla liveaboard have successfully identified a German World War One U-boat that was sunk in more than 100m off the coast of Shetland back in 1917.

The submarine, which was in the process of laying mines in the convoy channel between Orkney and Shetland, apparently had technical issues and a loss of trim saw it go below its maximum dive depth, sustaining some flooding, after which it managed to return to the surface – and shortly afterwards was attacked and sunk by two Royal Navy destroyers.

The remains of the German U-boat

The deep wreck site, some eight miles southeast of Lerwick, has been known about since the mid-1980s after the remains were picked up by scanning equipment, but the team from the popular Stromness-based Valhalla became the first tech divers to explore the submarine – and positively ID it as the SM UC-55.

Valhalla's Hazel Weaver said: “This technical trip to the submarine has been some ten years in the planning. While we had known about a wreck being there for a long time, the question was ‘is this the wreck we thought it was?' – after three and a half hours of divers being in the water down to 110m, they came and confirmed yes, this is the UC-55.”

The dive team aboard the Valhalla were the first to explore the U-boat

Jacob Mackenzie, one of the divers who visited the wreck and got footage of the submarine, said: “In the back of your mind you have to remember the fact that this is essentially a grave for probably 20 men who didn't make it out alive unfortunately.

“They are still inside and that's very obvious when you're looking around it – at these depths, it's pitch black, it's very quiet, it is quite eerie when you swim around doing this.”

German U-boat

Photo credit: Jacob Mackenzie

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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