Skeletons of 17 crewmembers still aboard. Subs utilized in region to cut supplies from Asia to Britain
Indonesian divers have discovered the wreck of a WW2 Nazi U-boat, with 17 skeletons of its crew still aboard. A tip-off from local divers led a team to the wreck, located 100km northeast of Karimunjawa Island off Java. Initial research concluded the sub to be a U-168, a hunter-killer of the German 'Kriegsmarine' that claimed several Allied vessels before being sunk by torpedoes in 1944. Numerous artifacts were also recovered including dinner plates bearing swastikas, batteries, binoculars and a bottle of hair oil.
“This is the first time we have found a foreign submarine from the war in our waters,” said Bambang Budi Utomo, head of the research team at the National Archaeology Centre that found the vessel. “This is an extraordinary find that will certainly provide useful information about what took place in the Java Sea during World War II.” However, he said it was unlikely to be raised due to its sheer size and the cost involved.
This is an extraordinary find that will certainly provide useful information about what took place in the Java Sea during World War II.
—Bambang Budi Utomo, National Archaeology Centre
Commanded by Captain Helmuth Pich, it sunk three Allied vessels in three missions; one British, one Norwegian and one Greek freighter. Coming under fire from Dutch submarine HrMs Zwaardvisch on October 6, 1944, it was lost around 1.30 AM with 23 German submariners aboard. Captain Pich survived, along with 26 other crew hands.
The sub was a type IX C/40 launched in March 1942. Monsun U-Boats operated out of the Dutch East Indies, Jakarta and Sabang between 1943 and 1945. The subs were utilized in the region to cut supplies from Asia to Britain by attacking allied ships along trade routes. Japan occupied Indonesia during World War II, which was then known by its colonial name of the Dutch East Indies.