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WWI submarine wreck found in Tunisia

A group of Tunisian divers have found the wreck of a French submarine from the First World War. The wreck was easily identified as the French submarine Ariane, which was sunk by the German submarine SM UC-22 in 1917. According to the Tunisian divers, although they were aware that there were some wrecks off the
Published: October 9, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:17
WWI submarine wreck found in Tunisia

A group of Tunisian divers have found the wreck of a French submarine from the First World War. The wreck was easily identified as the French submarine Ariane, which was sunk by the German submarine SM UC-22 in 1917.

According to the Tunisian divers, although they were aware that there were some wrecks off the coast of the Al-Watan al-Kibli peninsula, their discovery was a total coincidence, and they had come to the area on an organised club trip for recreational purposes.

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Kiosk of the Ariane Tunisia
Divers exploring the area around the kiosk

We were aware that there are wrecks in the area, but we did not even guess what we would find. We came across the wreck of a submarine already during our first dive,” said Selim Baccar, president of the Ras Adar Club diving club.

Although the ship has been at the bottom for over 100 years, it is still in great condition. Although it is all overgrown by the surrounding flora and has become home to many species of sea creatures, it still looks great.

Archival photograph of the Ariane ship
Archival photograph and plan of the Ariane

After the dive, it had to be established what the wreck actually was? This was not particularly difficult and, after contacting several experts, it soon became clear that this was most likely the wreck of the French submarine Ariane, which was stationed in the then French port of Bizerta, in the north of Tunisia.

The Ariane is the third submarine wreck found in Tunisian waters, but the only one dating from the First World War. The whole story is very exciting, it’s like a history book suddenly coming to life,” said Baccar

During the First World War, German submarines wreaked havoc off the coast of Tunisia. They were originally used to cut off Allied supplies from French colonies and the possibility of bringing in reinforcements. At that time, some 80,000 Tunisians were mobilised to fight or work in French factories.

Kiosk on the Wreck of the French Ariane Divers24.co.uk
Kiosk photographed by Tunisian divers

Ariane was torpedoed by the German submarine SM UC-22 while the vessel was on the surface. According to available archive data, only 8 of the 29 crew members were rescued.

Photo: Ras Adar Club

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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