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U-boat propeller returned to Germany

A brass propeller from the first U-boat to be sunk a century ago has been given back to the German navy by the UK Coastguard after it was seized in a haul of stolen items illegally recovered from a wreck.

The propeller, from the German submarine U-8, was handed over by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to members of the country's current navy.

A handover ceremony took place on the German naval vessel Karlsruhe, which was at Portsmouth Naval Base.

Charles Ball, head of coastal operations for the MCA, said: "This shows how times have changed. We can transfer this historical artefact back to our friends, not just in commemoration of the sacrifices suffered by both nations but also in celebration of what we have achieved since then."

Jan Hackstein, the German Naval Attache, said: "It is a wonderful sign of reconciliation and friendship between the United Kingdom and Germany that the propeller returns after a hundred years."

The propeller was recovered along with other historical items following a number of seizures of illegally recovered dive artefacts in the Kent area in 2014.

Pc Preston Frost, of Kent Police's rural taskforce, said: "We are pleased to have played our part in ensuring the return of an important historical artefact.

"We will continue to investigate anyone suspected of stealing items from sunken wrecks and bring prosecutions against them when appropriate."

U-8 only had a short career in the First World War but sank five British merchant ships before being sunk in March 1915.

All four officers and 25 crew were taken prisoner with no loss of life.

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