A victim of its own cargo, the Schnellboot S-31 was part of a sub-group of eight boats (S-30 to S-37) under construction for the Chinese Nationalist Government. At the outbreak of World War II, the eight boats were impounded and completed for the German Kriegsmarine. S-31 was built by the shipyard of Lurssen at Vegesack Beckedorf, Germany, launched in October 1939, and commissioned on 28 December 1939. Measuring 32.76 metres in length, she had a complement of 21 men.

Immediately, S-31 joined the 2nd Schnellboot Flotilla at the North Sea in Ostee. In May 1940, S-31 succeeded in seriously damaging the British destroyer HMS Kelly, which had to be towed home. This incident highlighted the capabilities and danger of the Schnellboot. In early 1941, the S-30 type boats were handed over to the 3rd Schnellboot Flotilla. After the end of the Baltic operation, the 3rd Schnellboot Flotilla was released from its service at the end of September 1941, and assigned to the Mediterranean. Their new base was Augusta on the eastern coast of Sicily given its proximity to Malta.

During the afternoon of 9 May 1942, intelligence from the Luftwaffe indicated that HMS Welshman was making a solo run from Gibraltar to Malta carrying vital supplies that had to be stopped from reaching the besieged island. While S-54, S-56, S-57, and S-58 loaded with torpedoes left Porto Empedocle to intercept the HMS Welshman, from the North East, three other Schnellboot carrying mines, S-31, S-34 and S-61, left Augusta with orders to lay their mines directly in the harbour entrance of Valletta. S-31 struck one of its own mines and sunk, resulting in the loss of life.


War Grave, Unexploded Ordinance, Dive Site

Open to Divers through Registered Dive Centres and Clubs

Maximum Depth: 65 metres


Wreck Video

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