Updated: Friday, 22 November 2013 02:42 | By Agence France-Presse

Indonesian researchers find 'German U-boat'

Indonesian researchers said Thursday they have discovered what is believed to be the wreck of a German submarine that was torpedoed off the main island of Java during World War II.


Indonesian researchers find 'German U-boat'

Photo received on November 21, 2013 by the National Archaeology Centre and taken in Karimun Jawa, Central Java, shows markings on a plate found by Indonesian archaeologists at the site of a sunken German submarine from the World War II era

A team found the wreck -- which contained at least 17 human skeletons -- north of Java earlier this month after a tip-off from local divers.

Researchers believe it is submarine "U-168", which succeeded in sinking several allied vessels before itself being torpedoed by a Dutch submarine in 1944.

"This is the first time we have found a foreign submarine from the war in our waters," said Bambang Budi Utomo, head of the research team at the National Archaeology Centre that found the vessel.

"This is an extraordinary find that will certainly provide useful information about what took place in the Java Sea during World War II."

As well as the human skeletons, dinner plates bearing swastikas, batteries, binoculars and a bottle of hair oil were pulled from the wreck.

He said further tests were being carried out on the objects to confirm the submarine was "U-168".

"There could be more people in there. We are open to assistance from the German government to research this area of their history," he added.

Utomo said it was unlikely the wreck, some 60 miles (100 kilometres) northeast of Karimunjawa island, would be lifted from the seabed any time soon because of its sheer size and the cost involved. 

Japan occupied Indonesia during World War II, which was then still known by its colonial name of the Dutch East Indies. Tokyo and Berlin were allies during the war.

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