University’s U-Boat research featured in Assassins Of The Deep
Survey work carried out by Bangor University’s School of Ocean Science’s research vessel the Prince Madog, led to the discovery of submarine U87 which was damaged and sunk on Christmas Day 1917.
The discovery was part of a joint research project with the Royal Commission on Ancient & Historic Monuments in Wales’s Heritage Lottery funded project: Commemorating the Forgotten U-boat War around the Welsh Coast, 1914-18.
Monday’s programme explores three different German U-Boat wrecks from the First and Second World War with maritime archaeologist Dr Innes McCartney of Bournemouth University.
In the story of U87, Innes and Dr Mike Roberts of Bangor University locate the vessel in the Irish Sea, from the University’s research vessel, the Prince Madog, explaining how it was sunk after being attacked by an Allied warship.
Also in the programme, Innes dives the U480 from the 2nd WW only to find it encased in a mysterious rubber coating. Is this one of the first attempts at stealth technology and if so why has the submarine ended up on the bottom of the English Channel? The programme also locates and identifies UC66 off the Isles of Scilly. It was the first submarine to be sunk from the air.
The programme is part of a ten-part series, a coproduction between National Geographic Channel, More 4, Welt 24 (Germany) and Discovery Science in the US. The showing on Monday on More 4 is the world premiere, broadcasts planned for other channels mean that the film will be shown all around the world.
A team of staff from the School of Ocean Sciences led by Dr Mike Roberts have been using a multibeam sonar system and the latest imaging techniques to reveal underwater wrecks from the Great War.
The sonar system on the Prince Madog generates very high resolution, three-dimensional models of the seafloor as the research vessel moves through the water over it and these models can allow researchers to identify objects at near centimetre scale. In water depths of 100 metres, typically found in the Irish Sea, the team are generating models and images of wrecks that can help marine archaeologists confirm their identity and even provide evidence of their demise.
Dr Mike Roberts explains why the information is so valuable:
“While these wartime relics can provide valuable information to historians and archaeologists, they may also help lead to the birth of a new industry. The data we’re collecting is providing unique insights into how these wrecks influence physical and biological processes in the marine environment. This information is being used to support the ambitions of the marine renewable energy sector.
“These images of wrecks reveal how the tide and currents have removed or deposited sediments and how the presence of these structures on the seabed have influenced these processes over time and what might happen when artificial structures are placed in the same or similar areas of seabed.”
Crispin Sadler of production company Mallinson Sadler Productions said:
“We are proud to have collaborated with the crew of the Prince Madog and the team for the Bangor University led by Dr Michael Roberts. Add the historical and archaeological expertise of Dr Innes McCartney from Bournemouth University and we had the ingredients for a fascinating film.
Publication date: 18 May 2021