PANAMA CITY — The remains of a German-American who invented the first submarine able to dive and resurface by itself were exhumed in a Panamanian cemetery Thursday and will be reburied alongside U.S. war veterans near the Panama Canal.

Julius Kroehl’s remains were dug up with help from the U.S. Embassy, which said authorities will also seek to confirm the identity of the remains and establish a cause of death.

Kroehl built his submarine from parts brought from New York to search for pearls off Panama's Pacific coast during the 19th century.

In this March 12, 2004 photo provided by the U.S. embassy in Panama, a diver stands by the submarine designed by Julius H. Kroehl, wrecked off San Telmo Island, Panama. (James Delgado/US Embassy in Panama via AP)
In this March 12, 2004 photo provided by the U.S. embassy in Panama, a diver stands by the submarine designed by Julius H. Kroehl, wrecked off San Telmo Island, Panama. (James Delgado/US Embassy in Panama via AP)

Records say he died at age 47 of malaria, but some suspect he was killed by decompression sickness — also known as the bends.

Kroehl was buried in 1867, and his grave was only rediscovered in 2005.

"I have no words to express the sentiment of emotion, it's a lot of emotion and also some sadness," maritime archaeologist James Delgado said as he held part of the remains in his hand.

Maritime archaeologist James Delgado inspects debris on the grave site of Julius H. Kroehl before exhuming his body from Amador Cemetery in the Chorrillo neighborhood of Panama City on Thursday. Arnulfo Franco/AP)
Maritime archaeologist James Delgado inspects debris on the grave site of Julius H. Kroehl before exhuming his body from Amador Cemetery in the Chorrillo neighborhood of Panama City on Thursday. Arnulfo Franco/AP)

Delgado spent a good part of his life studying Kroehl and in 2001 discovered the remains of Kroehl’s submarine at San Telmo Island, in Panama’s Pearl Islands.

"For me it is closing a chapter in this indescribable story," said Delgado, who is a senior vice president of SEARCH Inc., an archaeology and cultural resources management company.

Kroehl was buried in what at the time was the foreigners' cemetery. It is now part of a cemetery in Panama City’s populous neighborhood of El Chorrillo.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that Kroehl participated in the U.S. Civil War and for that reason will be re-buried in the Corozal American Cemetery and Memorial.