Submarines, known in German as Unterseeboots or U-Boats, were used by the Germans during World War I to disrupt British trade routes in the English Channel and the North Sea. U-Boats were a key part of the German strategy during the war, which aimed to defeat the United Kingdom, totally dependent on importing industrial goods and food from its empire, by blocking its shipping lanes. The Germans used the Belgian port of Zeebrugge as a base for its submarines. In 1918, the British tried to block the port by scuttling old ships in the entry channel.
The wreck, which is the 11th German submarine found in Belgian waters, was discovered in the summer by diver and marine archaeology expert Thomas Termote near the port of Ostende. However, the exact location of the wreck is kept secret to discourage treasure-hunters from looting or damaging the submarine.
Although part of the submarine's bow is missing and it's lying on its starboard side, the relatively good condition of the submarine suggests that the bodies of the crew members could still be inside it. It is still unclear whether the submarine was sunk by a British ship, British plane or a naval mine.
Jan Mees, head of the Flanders Marine Institute, said, "The submarine is very intact, everything is still closed — that's what [Termote] saw during his first visit this summer."
"All the hatches are still closed. This suggest the wreck has not been discovered before and moreover the 23 crew members are still inside," West Flanders provincial governor Carl Decaluwe told De Standaard newspaper.