Italy finds ‘body-filled’ wreck of WWII submarine

The sunken wreck of a long-lost Second World War submarine, thought to contain the bodies of 71 servicemen sealed inside its airtight chambers, has been found by divers off the coast of Sardinia.

Italy finds 'body-filled' wreck of WWII submarine
Italian divers have located the wreck of a T-class Second World War submarine. Photo: Masimo Bondone

A team led by Genoa-based wreck-hunter, Massimo Domenico Bondone, located the final resting place of the British T-class submarine, the HMS P 311, on Sunday.

The vessel was found at a depth of 100 metres, not far from the island of Tavolara, off the northeast coast of Sardinia.

SEE MORE: Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative

Bondone knew he had located the vanished vessel when the shadow of its 84-metre-long, eight-metre-wide wreck came into view once he reached a depth of 80 metres.

“Immediately I thought of the destiny of the men who met their deaths down there,” he told La Nuova Sardegna.

“It was a fate shared by so many men, submariners in particular, fighting on all both sides of the conflict,” Bordone added.

The HMS P 311 left Malta on December 28th 1942, on a mission to destroy the Italian battleships Trieste and Gorizia as they lay at anchor in the port of La Maddalena, located on an island of the same name off the northern coast of Sardinia.

A T class British submarine in action. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

But the sub vanished without a trace after sending a final signal on December 31st, 1942. She was reported overdue on January 8th when she failed to return to base and later presumed sunk.

It is thought the ship went down after striking a mine in the gulf of Olbia on or around January 2nd, 1943.

The wreck is in excellent condition, with only its prow showing damage from the explosion. In all likelihood, experts say the vessel's inner chamber was not flooded as it sank

“It looks like she probably went down with air sealed inside, meaning then crew eventually died of oxygen deprivation,” Bondone said.

“It's important to have the utmost respect for wrecks in cases like this.”

The Royal Navy told The Local that the HMS P 311 would almost certainly not be moved from its final resting place, irrespective of whether or not bodies are sealed inside.

“Wrecks are only raised if there are extremely compelling historical or operational reasons to do so,” a navy spokesperson told The Local.

“Once a military vessel sinks it becomes a war grave and is left where it lies.”

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?