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ARGENTINA | 16-04-2024 17:00

Probe to determine if sunken sub off Argentina’s coast is Nazi U-boat

Investigative mission to identify wreckage of sunken submarine found off coast of Necochea, Buenos Aires Province, in 2022 begins with deployment of underwater cameras and ROVs; According to naval research group Eslabón Perdido, the remains are likely those of a scuttled Nazi-era U-boat.

A naval research group of volunteers have launched an investigation to establish once and for all if a sunken submarine found off the coast of Argentina is a Nazi U-boat.

The remains of the submarine were first discovered in March 2022, near the port of Quequén, near Necochea, southwest Buenos Aires Province. 

The wreckage, which is 80 metres long by 10 metres wide, lies semi-buried at a depth of 28 metres, less than four kilometres off the coast of Costa Bonita and Arenas Verdes beaches, on the coastal border of the districts of Lobería and Necochea.

Researchers with the Eslabón Perdido group, led by historian and researcher Abel Basti, discovered its half-buried remains in the Argentine Sea. 

After carefully inspecting the site onboard via an inflatable raft, the group’s members reported to Coast Guard authorities that there was a giant metal hull of unknown origin submerged at low depth.

Their conclusion – that the boat is of German origin, a type VII or IX U-Boat – is supported by researchers with the Italian Naval League, which believes the ship is from the German Kriegsmarine (Navy) and dates back to World War II.

An expert report, signed by naval submarine expert Fabio Bisciotti, coincides with the findings of another put together by Argentina's Coast Guard. It used a remote-controlled vehicle to take pictures of the alleged Nazi submarine, with tactical divers also participating in the operation.

However, the German Embassy in Buenos Aires is less convinced, saying there is no evidence to currently support the claim.

“After several investigations we can communicate that for the time being there are no signs that it is the wreckage of a German submarine. Therefore, we currently assume that we do not own that wreckage,” said Constanza Corinagrato, the head of the politics and human rights section at Germany’s Embassy in Buenos Aires, in comments reported by Perfil.


Definitive answer?

Made up of volunteers, Eslabón Perdido’s members search to find the hulls of sunken Nazi submarines which, towards the end of World War II, arrived quietly into Argentina and were sunk in order to cover up traces of their arrival. 

Thanks to the group’s ongoing efforts, an investigative team is now seeking a definitive answer to the Necochea mystery. Funded by enthusiasts and the Reitich Foundation, a probe including the use of underwater cameras and ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle) is underway, seeking to confirm if the sunken sub is of Nazi origin.

A specialist firm called Deepwater, headed by engineer Carlos Pane, will lead operations at sea, deploying ROVs which will travel all along the length of the wreckage searching for identifiable signs. Two vessels, Kona and Calipso, both based in the port of Quequén, will be used.

Experts will try to extract samples of metal and some of the parts found, such as a periscope, to prove its origin by reliable means, as well as to draw up a record of the wreckage with a multi-beam sonar in order to fully map the site.

The resulting footage and imagery will then be assessed by a Technical Evaluation Commission comprised by engineers Hernán Sotero González (Eslabón Perdido), Jorge Pereda (representing Necochea) and Martín Canevaro (former president of the Professional Naval Engineering Council).

Specialists are optimistic the operation will prove to be a success. Previous inspections have show features (such as its periscope, hatch, turret and deck) that are consistent with German submarines from the era while its dimensions are consistent with U-boat design.

“This data, plus the documentation and records collected, lead to the claim that what we have there is a German submarine,” Basti stated in a recent interview with La Nación.

The expedition has been declared of national interest by the Senate and of public interest by the municipalities of Lobería and Necochea.

Historical records have shown that many Nazi officers escaped in such ships after the Allied victory. Many who departed chose Argentina as a refuge, either temporarily or permanently.

"It was deliberately sunk," Bisciotti said in 2022, recalling that this was a common practice when the crew of a ship, or a submarine, in this case, surrendered, so as not to leave traces.

Some have even gone as far as theorising that Adolf Hitler fled to Argentina — contrary to the accepted version of events that the Nazi leader committed suicide in Germany along with his partner, Eva Braun, when the outcome of the war became inevitable.



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