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British Second World War submarine with 71 bodies inside found off coast of Sardinia

Published 25/05/2016

A torpedo is loaded onto P311 at Holy Loch, Scotland, 1942. Image: Imperial War Museums
A torpedo is loaded onto P311 at Holy Loch, Scotland, 1942. Image: Imperial War Museums

The sunken wreck of a British submarine from the Second World War with 71 bodies sealed inside has been found by divers off the coast of Sardinia.

The P311 submarine mysteriously disappeared 73 years ago in the Mediterranean and was found at a depth of 100 metres near the island of Tavolara by experienced Italian wreck-hunter, Massimo Domenico Bordone.

Partial view of a British submarine downed off Sardinia during World War II. An Italian diver claims to have located the long-lost wreck of the British submarine HMS P311 that was downed off Sardinia during World War II. Diver Massimo Bondone told the La Nuova Sardegna daily that he found the P311 at a depth of 80 meters (262 feet) off the isle of Tavolara during a dive. (Massimo Bondone via AP)
Partial view of a British submarine downed off Sardinia during World War II. An Italian diver claims to have located the long-lost wreck of the British submarine HMS P311 that was downed off Sardinia during World War II. Diver Massimo Bondone told the La Nuova Sardegna daily that he found the P311 at a depth of 80 meters (262 feet) off the isle of Tavolara during a dive. (Massimo Bondone via AP)

The wreck was found after Mr Bardone noticed an 84-metre long object when he researched depths of 80 metres.

HMS P311 went missing in January 1943, after making its last contact on New Year’s Eve, along with its crew. The discovery confirms all on board died. The ship sat on the Gallurese seabed, acting as a steel coffin and depriving the crew of oxygen. Experts suggest the inner chamber was not flooded when it sank.

“It looks like she probably went down with air sealed inside, meaning the crew eventually died of oxygen deprivation,” Mr Bardone told Italian newspaper, La Nuova Sardegna.

The vessel left Malta on 28 December 1942 on a mission to destroy the Italian battleships Trieste and Gorizia in the port of Maddalena, on an island of the same name off the coast of Sardinia. Officials think the ship sunk after striking a mine in the gulf of Olbia, north eastern Sardinia.

Mr Bardone found the wreck in almost perfect condition, save for a damaged area on the prow from the explosion.

The Royal Navy said the wreck would most likely not be moved, despite the bodies inside.

Independent

Partial view of a British submarine downed off Sardinia during World War II. An Italian diver claims to have located the long-lost wreck of the British submarine HMS P311 that was downed off Sardinia during World War II. Diver Massimo Bondone told the La Nuova Sardegna daily that he found the P311 at a depth of 80 meters (262 feet) off the isle of Tavolara during a dive. (Massimo Bondone via AP)
Partial view of a British submarine downed off Sardinia during World War II. An Italian diver claims to have located the long-lost wreck of the British submarine HMS P311 that was downed off Sardinia during World War II. Diver Massimo Bondone told the La Nuova Sardegna daily that he found the P311 at a depth of 80 meters (262 feet) off the isle of Tavolara during a dive. (Massimo Bondone via AP)

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