A tip from local divers swimming in the Java Sea has led to what is believed to be the wreck of a Nazi submarine sunk during World War II.
Indonesian researchers announced the discovery this week after examining the hulking underwater structure, which also contained at least 17 skeletons likely belonging to the vessel's crew, the Agence France-Presse reports.
"This is the first time we have found a foreign submarine from the war in our waters," Bambang Budi Utomo, head of the research team at the National Archaeology Centre that led the investigation, told the AFP. "This is an extraordinary find that will certainly provide useful information about what took place in the Java Sea during World War II."
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A group of divers from the Yogyakarta Archeology Center and the Yogyakarta Diving Center first reached the sub on Nov. 9, according to the Jakarta Post. Although they have not yet discovered any identifying features on the outside of the vessel, they did discover evidence inside the sub that suggests it belonged to German forces. Among the items discovered inside was a pair of plates with Nazi insignia, the report notes.
So far, the National Research Centre said it believes the submarine is the "U-168," which was torpedoed in 1944 by a Dutch submarine. The fact that the submarine's hull is greatly damaged may be a result of this, Haaretz reports.
Indeed, as author Gordon Williamson notes in his book, Wolf Pack: The Story of the U-Boat in World War II, the U-168 was for a time stationed out of Jakarta and was able to sink several ships before being brought down in October of 1944.
Further tests are expected to confirm whether the sub is the U-168. Utomo added that any outside help would be appreciated.
"There could be more people in there. We are open to assistance from the German government to research this area of their history," he said, according to the AFP.
This is not the first German sub to be discovered this year. In the spring, employees scouting new potential locations for an underwater oil pipeline off the coast of Norway stumbled upon the wreck of U-486, sunk by a British submarine in 1945.