A team of divers has officially confirmed the identity of the wreck of the HMS Urge, a British submarine that sunk near Malta in 1942 after hitting a German mine. The confirmation dispelled controversial claims made by a Belgian diver in 2015 suggesting the sub was sunk by Italian warplanes off the coast of Libya during a clandestine mission.
University of Malta maritime archaeologist Timmy Gambin led the team that made two dives to the wreck in April 2023, confirming the submarine’s identity by the name embossed on its conning tower. The HMS Urge, commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Edward Tomkinson, vanished in April 1942 while en route from Malta to Egypt amidst intense bombardment of the island by German and Italian forces.
The mystery of the Urge’s disappearance resurfaced when diver Jean-Pierre Misson claimed to have found its wreck off Libya, implying the sub was off course and suggesting a cover-up of its mission. However, recent dives off Malta have conclusively verified the wreck as the Urge, refuting the claims made about its location and fate.
The examination of the wreck at a depth of approximately 360 feet revealed a hole in the pressure hull near the bow caused by a German naval mine, corroborating the submarine’s demise due to the mine’s blast. The team’s high-resolution photographs and video footage of the wreck provided clear evidence of the embossed name, debunking the notion that the sub was lost off North Africa.
This confirmation brings closure to the families of the 32 crew members, 11 naval personnel, and a war correspondent who were on board the HMS Urge when it went missing. Gambin emphasized the significance of this discovery, not only for the science and safety of the dives but also for providing closure to the families, highlighting the personal and historical importance of resolving the mystery surrounding the submarine’s fate.