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French battleship sunk during WWI is found

February 21, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A French battleship sunk by a German submarine during World War I has been discovered in remarkable condition on the Mediterranean seabed off the Italian island of Sardinia, officials said.

The 410-foot-long Danton was one of the largest French naval vessels of its era. It was spotted by a company conducting an underwater survey for a gas pipeline between Algeria and Italy.

The pipeline builder, Galsi, said in a statement that many of the ship's gun turrets were still intact.

It said the Danton was sitting upright under more than 1,000 yards of water 22 miles southwest of Sardinia.

Rome-based marine survey company Fugro Oceansismica discovered the wreck in late 2007. Its high-tech equipment allowed officials to construct a digital 3-D model of the ship and the surrounding seabed.

Galsi said subsequent talks with French naval authorities confirmed that the wreck was the Danton, which was built in 1910.

The ship sank with 296 sailors aboard in 1917. Galsi said that according to naval historians, the captain made no attempt to leave the ship as it went down.

Galsi said it would reroute the pipeline to keep it far from the wreck.

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