TODAY |

'Great closure' for Auckland family as WWII sub found on sea floor

The discovery of what's thought to be a long-lost World War Two submarine in the Mediterranean Sea has special meaning for an Auckland man whose grandfather was on board.

Mike Nesbitt has a special connection to the lost submarine and had researched its location. Source: 1 NEWS

Mike Nesbitt had researched the loss of the submarine H.M.S. P311, even pinpointing its location to within 15 kilometres of where the wreck has just been discovered after decades on the sea floor.

"The P311 is the submarine that my grandfather was on. And it's been lost for 73 years," Mr Nesbitt told ONE News.

It was found last week by an Italian diver, intact and believed to be holding the remains of 71 submariners, including William Frederick Nesbitt.

"There's great closure for the family to know we've found him," Mike Nesbitt said.

The wreck is north east of Sardinia, 10 kilometres off the coast of a small island and sitting in about 80 metres of water.

"It had only been disabled and had hit the bottom which means that they would have been sat there just suffocating for days, which is quite horrible," Mr Nesbitt said.

He has long taken an interest in the fate of the submarine, putting together a booklet for his family.

Mr Nesbitt believes the sub was sunk by a sea mine, based on reports of fishermen in the area.

"They heard a whining noise and then an explosion. And then it went quiet."

P311 had been named, but not officially christened, when it was lost.

"It was given the name Tutankhaman. The irony on that, because of the tomb situation, is quite weird," Mr Nesbitt said.

The Royal Navy is still to confirm it is P311, but experts are convinced based on the wreck's distinctive features.