Northern Ireland’s senior naval officer has said he believes the mystery craft found lying on the bottom of Lough Foyle may well turn out to be a U-boat from the Second World War.
Commander John Gray, senior naval officer for Northern Ireland, said that if it turns out to be a U-boat, it would be of great historical value.
He was speaking after attending talks in Londonderry yesterday to work out the next steps on identifying the mystery object.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood convened the special meeting at Lisahally docks along Lough Foyle and has announced that the puzzle will be solved within a matter of days.
Mr Attwood said that as a result of the talks, he was now ordering detailed scans of the site over the next week, before Royal Navy divers explore it further.
At the meeting, it emerged that the initial prediction that the vessel is a midget submarine may now be under review and there is now a suggestion it may actually be a much bigger German craft.
Speaking in Derry yesterday, Mr Attwood said: “The big outcome from the meeting is that over the next few days all those with the ability and the opportunity to scan this site will do so.
“Subject to the agreement of the Royal Navy, navy divers will then go down and determine once and for all what the object is.
“We should be able to get all of that done in seven to 10 days.
“It may well be a wreck of some description or a war grave and there may be ordnance there.”
Mr Attwood said that once the object is identified, only then would a decision be made on whether to haul it to the surface.
Commander Gray said the navy would now await the formal request from Mr Attwood’s department for assistance.
Speaking about the possible submarine, he said: “The equipment the team have brought up has produced very detailed and very impressive images of this underwater object and these indicate there is something there that does need to be investigated further.
“It is too early to say whether this is a vessel but with the history of the Foyle, the U-boat presence here, the Royal Navy and Airforce presence here during the Second World War, there is a likelihood that if it is a vessel, it is linked to the war and would definitely have historical value.
“Looking at the images and listening to some of the local amateur historians, there is certainly a convincing case that it could be a submarine.”
Story so far
The Belfast Telegraph revealed the existence of the mystery object, suspected to be a submarine, last week. The object was discovered by accident during a sonar scope of the Foyle. Londonderry was one of the most important naval bases during the Second World War. The city was selected for the symbolic German submarine fleet surrender to recognise its vital role in the conflict.