Missing World War Two submarine HMS Urge located in Mediterranean

Correction: This article states inaccurate and out-of-date information about the location of the HMS Urge, based on reports that were given at the time, but which were ultimately speculative and wrong. The ship in question here was not the Urge, and the Urge has now been conclusively identified and located off the coast of Malta. We apologize for the error.

The wreck of HMS Urge, a British Royal Navy submarine, which sunk off the coast of Libya during World War Two has been discovered.

In 1942, the HMS Urge disappeared and was lost forever, without any knowledge of what happened to it, why or where it sunk. But now a Belgian diving expert has declared that he has located the missing submarine.

29 crew members and 10 passengers were aboard the HMS Urge when it disappeared and they were all declared missing in action. Meanwhile, their families never discovered what actually happened.

The wreck is believed to be situated around 160ft below sea level near the Libyan coast.

The diving teams and researchers who have been working on the project now think that the submarine had been bombed by an Italian aircraft.

The wreck was discovered as the divers used sonar imaging equipment to scan the bottom of the Mediterranean, the Mail Online reports.

HMS Urge has a special relationship with the people of a town called Bridgend in Wales, since it was the residents of the town who raised the funds for the submarine as well as two other war ships. The monies were raised as part of a national government run fundraiser to gather money from the British people to support the war effort.

HMS Urge had set off from Malta and was heading to Alexandria in Egypt.

Lead diver and archaeologist, Jean-Pierre Misson discovered the wreck in 2012. But as the Libyan civil war deteriorated he had to abandon his project.

It wasn’t until this year that Jean-Pierre has been able to analyse the sonar pictures from the site and has identified HMS Urge. The submarine has been identified because of its unique shape typical of the British Navy at the time.

Jean-Pierre says that the wreck is buried deep in the ocean floor and is unlikely to be excavated or recovered. Moreover, because the situation in Libya hasn’t improved, it is unlikely anyone will be able to return to investigate the site further for a long time.

HMS Urge is honoured and remembered at Bridgend, where a plaque dedicated to the vessel and its crew and passengers is displayed in the centre of the town. HMS Urge cost around £300,000 in 1941, which is over £12 million today.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE