The fearful mystery surrounding the fate of a British WWII submarine not heard from since it departed on a mission off the coast of Italy has finally been unraveled.
Explorers have uncovered the sunken T-class vessel HMS P-311 off the coast of Sardinia with, it is believed, the bodies of 71 servicemen sealed inside.
The vessel was presumed sunk after contact was lost with it on December 31 1942.
But its wreckage was discovered by Genoa-based wreck-hunter, Massimo Domenico Bordone on Saturday.
He told La Nuova Sardegna: ‘Immediately I thought of the destiny of the men who met their deaths down there.
‘It was a fate shared by so many men, submariners in particular, fighting on all both sides of the conflict.’
The submarine is thought to have sunk after hitting a mine while on a mission to Trieste and Gorizia to destroy Italian battleships.
Only the prow of the vessel is showing damage from the explosion, suggesting its inner chamber is intact.
Massimo added: ‘It looks like she probably went down with air sealed inside, meaning then crew eventually died of oxygen deprivation.
‘It’s important to have the utmost respect for wrecks in cases like this.’
The Royal Navy told local media that the HMS P 311 would almost certainly not be moved from its final resting place, even with bodies inside.
‘Wrecks are only raised if there are extremely compelling historical or operational reasons to do so,” it said.
‘Once a military vessel sinks it becomes a war grave and is left where it lies.’