A torpedo is loaded on to the HMS P311. (Photo: Ministry of Information/Public Domain)

The life of the HMS P311 was short. A British Royal Navy submarine, it was launched in March 1942, and formally commissioned in August of that year. But in late December 1942, on a mission to sink to sink two Italian ships, it mysteriously vanished, presumed sunk, lost along with the lives of 71 sailors. 

But on Sunday, a team of divers in Italy said they had found the submarine near Tavolara, an island off the coast of Sardinia. The sub was just 100 yards deep into the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Local, and experts believe that bodies are locked inside with air—meaning that the sailors who didn’t die from drowning suffocated for lack of oxygen. 

It’s presumed that T-class submarine hit a mine and sunk, though authorities have never known for sure—they last heard from P311 on December 31, 1942, and it was formally declared overdue on January 9, 1943. (The sub was set to be christened Tutankhamen, but sunk before that could be formally done.)

The ship cannot be moved, a spokesperson for the Royal Navy told the Local

“Wrecks are only raised if there are extremely compelling historical or operational reasons to do so,” the spokesperson said. “Once a military vessel sinks it becomes a war grave and is left where it lies.”