Rumours of a World War II German submarine at the bottom of the river have been around for years, but a sonar image may prove that itâ€™s more than just a bump on a log.
Brian Corbin, a diver from Happy Valley Goose Bay, and others were searching the river bottom with side-scanning sonar for three men lost over Muskrat Falls back in 2010 when they came across what appears to be a submarine.
â€œWe were looking for something completely different, not a submarine, not a U-boat â€” I mean, no one would ever believe that was possible,â€ Brian Corbin told CBC News.
It certainly wasnâ€™t unheard for German U-boat to be operating off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick during the war targeting convoys to Great Britain. One reached as far upriver on the St. Lawrence as Rimouski, some 300 km from Quebec City.
â€œI think it is possible,â€ Wyman Jacque, town manager for Happy Valley Goose Bay, told the Star Thursday.
Jacque said the U-boat could have quite easily made the trip inland on Labradorâ€™s largest estuary to the shipping port of Happy Valley Goose Bay from the coast and he added the Churchill River before it was dammed back in the 1970s might well have been deep enough to allow the Germans sailors to get to the area of the Falls.
The Churchill River empties into what is known as Lake Melville, a salt water body of water where Happy Valley Goose Bay is located. Muskrat Falls is about 26 kilometres from Lake Melville.
â€œI can tell you that I have seen the sonar and the outline . . . and you can actually see an outline of what appears to be . . . a submarine,â€ Jacque said.
The German Embassy in Ottawa, which has been contacted about the possible find, has confirmed that as many as 50 U-boats were unaccounted for when the war ended in 1945.
[S]earchers believe they’ve found a World War II German submarine at the bottom of a Canadian river, 60 miles from the ocean.
What appears to be a German U-boat was first spotted at the bottom of the Churchill River in Labrador two years ago by searchers using sonar to locate three men who had gone over Muskrat Falls, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.
“We were looking for something completely different, not a submarine, not a U-boat — I mean, no one would ever believe that was possible,” Brian Corbin told the CBC. “It was a great feeling when we found it.”
Corbin said the object appears to be a 150-foot-long vessel.
The German government says it would be “sensational and unusual” for one of its submarines to have ended up so far inland, though it concedes it’s possible, the CBC reported.
“We do know that German U-boats did operate in that region,” Georg Juergens, deputy head of mission for the German Embassy in Ottawa, told the CBC. “We must brace ourselves for surprises.”
Juergens said the whereabouts of more than a dozen WWII U-boats may still be unknown. He said it would be “against our tradition and our naval customs” to raise the wreckage if it does prove to be a German sub.
“This site then would be declared a war grave at sea,” he said.
The loss of German U-boat personnel in WWII was something like 75%.