The German cruiser Karlsruhe was crucial in the Nazi attack on Norway, but sank after being attacked by a British submarine. Its whereabouts remained a mystery for 80 years.
While carrying out an inspection work on power grids in 2017, officials at the Norwegian state-owned Statnett discovered a shipwreck 490 meters deep, between Norway and Denmark.
Now, three years later, archaeologists responsible for studying the site have discovered that the vessel is the Karlsruhe, a German World War II cruiser.
As historians explain, at the beginning of the conflict the king and other important figures in Norway had to flee when Adolf Hitler’s troops arrived in the region.
They sought refuge in Britain and remained there until the Nazis surrendered in 1945.
Built in the late 1920s, Karlsruhe was reused by the Nazis during World War II and played a crucial role in the conflict, leading the German attack on Norway in April 1940.
Leaving the port of Kristiansand in the south of the country, however, the vessel was attacked by a British submarine, leaving it severely damaged, which caused the Germans to evacuate and then sink the cruise, under the order of the ship’s captain.
“You can find Karlsruhe’s fate in history books, but no one has known exactly where the ship sunk. Moreover, it was the only large German warship that was lost during the attack on Norway with an unknown position,” said Frode Kvalø, an archaeologist and researcher at the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
“After all these years we finally know where the graveyard to this important warship is.”
The warship was 174 meters long, had steam turbines and nine cannons, it was a really heavy cruiser. But the way the warship was found was a little unusual.
According to the specialists, large warships with a high center of gravity like Karlsruhe’s tend to turn around while sinking.
“But Karlsruhe stands firmly 490 meters below sea level with cannons pointing menacingly into the sea,” Kvalø said.
“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.”
Ole Petter Hobberstad, a Statnett employee, was also excited by the discovery, which puts an end to the 80-year-old mystery about Karlsruhe’s fate.
“To find such a special war wreck is rare and extra fun for us who work with underwater investigations,” Hobberstad said.