A SHIPWRECKED German World War 1 cruiser has been found off the Falkland Islands after it was sunk by the Royal Navy 105 years ago.
SMS Scharnhorst was the flagship of German Vice-Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee’s East Asia Squadron and was sunk on December 8, 1914.
More than 800 men were on board, including Vice-Admiral von Spee himself.
The leader of the search for the wreckage said the moment of discovery was “extraordinary”.
Mensun Bound said: “We are often chasing shadows on the seabed, but when the Scharnhorst first appeared in the data flow, there was no doubt that this was one of the German fleet.”
Film production company TVT recorded the search.
Mr Bound said: “Suddenly she just came out of the gloom with great guns poking in every direction.
“As a Falkland Islander and a marine archaeologist, a discovery of this significance is an unforgettable, poignant moment in my life.”
The search began five years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Falkland Islands, but was not successful at first.
Search teams recommenced their operation earlier this year using a subsea vessel, the Seabed Constructor, and four underwater drones.
They found SMS Scharnhorst on the third day of the search, at a depth of 1,610m (5,282ft).
The wreck was not disturbed during the operation and the Falkland Maritime Heritage Trust is looking to have the site legally protected.
SMS Scharnhorst was part of the East Asia Squadron, the Imperial German Navy’s cruiser squadron which operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean until the outbreak of World War One in 1914.
The ship played a key role in the Battle of Coronel, between the Royal Navy and The Kaiser’s Imperial Navy off the coast of Chile.
The battle was Britain’s first naval defeat of World War 1 and a devastating one.
The Germans sank two of the four British ships with the loss of more than 1,600 lives and not a single German fatality.
But the Royal Navy hit back swiftly, sending ships from the North Sea down to the South Atlantic and fighting the Germans at the Falklands five weeks later.
HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible inflicted substantial damage on SMS Scharnhorst, causing it to sink with all 860 people on board.
The Royal Navy then gave pursuit to the remaining German ships.
Vice-Admiral von Spee’s two sons also died, Heinrich on board SMS Gneisenau and Otto aboard the light cruiser SMS Leipzig. In total, 2,200 German sailors died in the battle.
Vice-Admiral von Spee was hailed as a hero in Germany for not surrendering and in 1934 a new heavy cruiser was named after him.