The German boat, which is believed to be an infamous submarine that sank several Allied vessels, was discovered north of Java earlier this month after local divers tipped off officials to the wreck’s existence. Indonesian researchers said on Thursday said the wreck contained at least 17 human skeletons as well as several priceless historic artifacts.
“This is the first time we have found a foreign submarine from the war in our waters,” Bambang Budi Utomo, head of the National Archaeology Center research team that located the sunken vessel, told the Agence France-Presse. “This is an extraordinary find that will certainly provide useful information about what took place in the Java Sea during World War II.”
Divers have reportedly retrieved dinner plates bearing swastikas, batteries, binoculars and a bottle of hair oil from the submarine. According to Fox News, officials say it’s unlikely the wreck will be raised or taken out of the sea anytime soon.
Upon first inspection, Indonesian researchers told Agence France-Presse they believe the wreck to be the German submarine “U-168,” which records show sank numerous Allied vessels, the submarine was later torpedoed by a Dutch submarine torpedoed in 1944 off the archipelago nation’s main island of Java.
The Dutch vessel fired six torpedos from 900 meters, but only one of the explosives detonated. Twenty-three German sailors reportedly died in the attack, and the captain and 26 crew members survived, According to a report by German newspaper Die Welt.
According to Fox News, German magazine Der Spiegel reported 23 of the 50 people on board U-168 at the time of the encounter died in the attack.
Fox News reported the discovered submarine could be that of U-183, another German submarine that also sunk in the Java Sea in April 1945. Both U-boats were reportedly part of World War II Germany’s “Monsoon Group,” which was tasked with intercepting enemy shipping in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
“We are open to assistance from the German government to research this area of their history,” Budi Utomo told Agence France-Presse.