Wreckage of sunken WWII battleship found off Norway
CBS News reports that the 571-foot German warship Karlsruhe was found under 1,600 feet of water off the coast of Norway by the power company Statnett with multibeam echo sounders and a remotely operated vehicle.
The ship, equipped with nine cannons and three triple turrets, led the invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, but was struck by a British submarine torpedo on its return trip.
The site of the wreck was unclear for the next 80 years. Nora Buli reports to Reuters, experts from the country’s state-run power grid operator, Statnett, identified a sunken vessel situated near one of the company’s underwater cables as the long-lost ship.
Statnett engineers spotted the remains of 571-foot cruisers during a routine survey via sonar in 2017, according to Arnfinn Nygaard from the Norwegian broadcast networks NRK.
But the ship’s identity remained a mystery until late June, when photographs captured by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) revealed its hull, gun turrets and telltale swastikas resting some 1,500 feet beneath the waves, per a statement.
Researchers identified Karlsruhe based on the shape of its hull and such details as the positions of its gun turrets, reports Reuters. The wreck is located just under 50 feet away from a power cable installed in 1977.
“You can find Karlsruhe’s fate in history books, but no one has known exactly where the ship sunk,” says Frode Kvalø, an archaeologist at the Norwegian Maritime Museum, in the statement.
“Moreover, it was the only large German warship that was lost during the attack on Norway with an unknown position. After all these years we finally know where the graveyard [of] this important warship is.”
Built-in the late 1920s, Karlsruhe was repurposed—and redecorated—by the Nazis during World War II.
It successfully supported Germany’s attack on Norway but fell victim to a British submarine when departing the port of Kristiansand. After crew members evacuated the hobbled ship, the Germans scuttled it themselves.
The newly rediscovered cruiser sank at the very start of the Nazis’ invasion of Norway, which saw the country’s government and king seek refuge in Britain, where they remained until the German surrender in 1945, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
In the statement, Kvalø notes that large warships tend to turn around when sinking due to their high centre of gravity.
Karlsruhe, however, “stands firmly … below sea level with cannons pointing menacingly into the sea.”
The archaeologist adds, “With the main battery of nine cannons in three triple turrets, this was the largest and most fearsome ship in the attack group against Kristiansand.”
Per NRK, the Norwegian Coastal Administration will now monitor the ship, as it may still contain upward of one million litres of fuel, as well as other potentially harmful chemicals.