Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Deep-Sea Duel Volume 57 Number 1, January/February 2004
by Jennifer Pinkowski

On February 9, 1944, the British submarine HMS Venturer made nautical history when it torpedoed and sank the German sub U-864 in the North Sea. It was the only time in the history of naval warfare that one submarine sank another while both were submerged. All 73 crewmen went down with the U-864.

Now the German sub has been rediscovered off Norway's west coast by that country's navy. The hull is broken in two but the vessel is otherwise intact.


The U-864 was a so-called "Monsun Boat" eventually destined for operations in the Indian Ocean. Because several of these submarines were on transport missions and loaded with mercury, lead, steel, and optical glass, it is suspected that U-864's keel holds 70 tons of mercury--a serious environmental concern if plans are made to recover the sub and, presumably, its crew. The Norwegian government is investigating.

© 2004 by the Archaeological Institute of America