Lost World War Two submarine claim investigated by Royal Navy

Apparent wreckage of HMS P311 Image copyright Massimo Bondone
Image caption Italian diver Massimo Bondone says he found the wreckage at a depth of 80 metres

The Royal Navy is investigating claims the wreckage of a British submarine lost during World War Two has been discovered off the coast of Sardinia.

An Italian diver says he discovered the vessel, known as HMS P311, last weekend at a depth of 80 metres (262 feet).

The submarine was last seen in December 1942, after leaving Malta as part of an Allied attack on Italian warships.

A Royal Navy spokesman said it was examining records "to determine whether or not this is a Royal Navy submarine".

Diver Massimo Bondone told local press he discovered the wreckage of the T-class submarine off the coast of the island of Tavolara.

He told reporters he was able to identify the submarine by two Chariot "manned" torpedoes strapped to its hull.

Image copyright Massimo Bondone

HMS P311 disappeared between 30 December 1942 and 8 January 1943, when the vessel was reported missing after failing to return to base.

It had been en route to La Maddalena, in Sardinia, to attack two Italian gun cruisers as part of an Allied assault, known as Operation Principle.

The submarine's last signal was sent on 31 December 1942 and HMS P311 is believed to have been later sunk by Italian mines.

However, the wreckage has never been found and none of the vessel's crew was found.

The submarine's captain, Commander Richard Cayley, was one of the most highly-decorated submarine commanders of World War Two and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1941.

His success earned him the nickname "Deadeye Dick".

The submarine had been due to be named HMS Tutankhamun, after the Egyptian pharaoh, but it was lost before it could be officially named.