Wreck WA 1003 is a submarine or U-boat. The vessel is between 58m and 70m long and has a beam of c. 6.5m. The exact length is difficult to determine due to damage to the bow and stern. It stands 3m proud of the seabed, but is partly buried.
The submarine is armed with four torpedo tubes, two bow tubes and two stern tubes. Two deck guns, consistent with guns used on German u-boats during the First World War are visible. No evidence of mine launching chutes could be found.
The size of the vessel, the absence of mine launching equipment and the general layout suggest that WA 1003 is the wreck of an oceangoing German attack U-boat from the First World War.
As a construction and general layout plan of U-63 to U-65 was available during the ROV survey, features observed on the seabed could be compared to this plan.
Apart from a number of details on the conning tower, all fittings and machinery were consistent with the plan. It could thus be concluded that the U-boat was of the so called ‘Ms’, or Mobilmachungs (mobilisation) type.
Ms boats were built by a number of different shipyards and were constantly improved. This led to a variety of subtypes, all with slight variations. Each subtype was named after the first boat built to the specification.
Further study showed that the wreck was consistent with the subtype U-81. This type of U-boat was built at the Germania Werft in Kiel between 1915 and 1916. There were six boats in the U-81 type: U-81 to U-86. Four of them were sunk during the war around Ireland or in the Atlantic. One boat was broken up (
Only U-86 is stated to have sunk or been sunk in the Channel after having been used by the British Navy in 1921. WA 1003 has therefore been identified as the German Ms-type u-boat U-86.
Using archaeological and documentary evidence it is possible to describe the U-86 in some detail.