What’s Karlsruhe? The German war ship discovered 80 years after it was sunk
A German warship hit by a submarine during World War II has been found on the seabed off Norway, more than eight decades after it was attacked. The Karlsruhe was discovered around 1,600 feet (488 meters) below sea level and 11 nautical miles (20 km) off Kristiansand, Norway, during a routine inspection of undersea electricity cables.
The warrior ship
The Karlsruhe is a 174-metre light armoured cruiser. It was the last of the big German World War II-era warships. The ship was built in the mid-1920s and commissioned into the German Navy in 1929. Initially it was mostly used for training purposes but by World War II, Germany started using it as a battleship. It was said to be the country’s one of the most effective warships.
The War background
When World War II broke out in 1939, Norway chose to stay neutral but Germany invaded it on April 9, 1940. The German troops occupied Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik. Backed by Allied forces, the Norwegian Army mounted a resistance effort, but the Nazis ultimately took control in June 1940 until liberation in April 1945. The Karlsruhe has dropped off soldiers in Kristiansand and they occupied the whole of Norway.
The end of Karlsruhe
After dropping its crew, the Karlsruhe started its journey back to Germany, but it didn’t get very far from Kristiansand harbour. The British submarine HMS Truant was waiting for it. When it spotted the Karlsruhe emerging from the harbour, the submarine fired multiple torpedoes in its direction, hitting it twice and causing severe damage.
The crew attempted to save the ship, trying to navigate it to safety, but gave up after a couple of hours as the seawater rushed in through the broken hull. It is assumed that there were no human casualties but the next two torpedoes made sure that the ship sank forever.
The discovery of the wreckage and dangers
For eight decades the ship stayed at the bottom of the sea. In 2017, the first signs of discovery were made though it wasn’t sure that it was the Karlsruhe. But last month, an engineer of Norwegian power grid operator Statnett found the wreck while inspecting undersea electricity cables.
Now the experts say that thousands of litres of oil and other substances could still be inside the shipwreck, and that it could cause an ecological disaster in case of a leak. If that’s the case, salvaging it may become ecologically dangerous.