First-ever U-boat found off Canadian coast

First German U-boat found off coast of Nova Scotia. It was sunk in 1942.

The first confirmed U-boat wreck in Canadian waters has been discovered off Nova Scotia's south coast.

A team of divers and marine archeologists say they located the Nazi submarine U-215 last week about 200 kilometres south of Shelburne.

"In fact, you can look inside and see the live mines still there," said Mike Fletcher, project leader and chief diver for Eco-Nova Productions, a Halifax-based TV production company. "We know because this was a very specific style of U-boat, only six ever made."

The vessel has five distinctive tubes that rise up out of the deck, he says.

In the summer of 1942, the U-boat was on a secret mission to lay mines in Boston harbour.

The sub torpedoed the American ship USS Alexander Macomb, which was loaded with tanks and guns for the war in Europe. A British warship counterattacked, sinking the Nazi submarine with depth charges.

The wreck of U-215 was never found. To locate it, the explorers sifted through archives and consulted local fishermen "because no one knows the sea better," said Fletcher.

Crews used sonar to scan an area on Georges Bank, then sent divers in. Fletcher said the U-boat, which appears to be completely intact, is in about 90 metres of water.

Fletcher said the boat is in a difficult area with strong tides. "I've never had a more challenging dive," he added.

Fletcher said other people claim to have seen German U-boats off the eastern coast of Canada but no evidence has ever turned up. U-boats have been found off the American coast, from Florida to New Jersey.

It's unclear what will happen to the Nazi submarine. Fletcher said it's the property of the German government and it's customary to "leave a warship alone."

Fletcher's story of U-215 will air next year on the program The Sea Hunters, on History Television and National Geographic television.