The wreck of the sunken German World War II cruiser Karlsruhe has been discovered 490 meters below sea level near subsea cables in the North Sea between Norway and Denmark.
The discovery was made by Norwegian state-owned electricity operator Statnett, after the ship spent over 80 years on the seafloor.
With a length of 174 meters (571 ft) and equipped with steam turbines and nine cannons, Karlsruhe led the attack on Kristiansand during the invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940. It was set under fire from Norwegian artillery, torpedoed by a British submarine, and finally sunk by the Germans themselves during the invasion. The shipwreck on the seabed has never been found or identified – until now.
“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. After all these years we finally know where the graveyard to this important warship is,” says Frode Kvalø, archaeologist and researcher at the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
Found near subsea cables
It was during inspection work three years ago that sonars discovered a shipwreck close to Statnett’s power interconnectors between Denmark and Norway. This summer, Statnett’s Senior Project Engineer Ole Petter Hobberstad got the chance to find out more about the sunken ship that had been observed 13 nautical miles from Kristiansand in Southern Norway.
From the offshore vessel “Olympic Taurus”, the mysterious wreck was investigated by ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and multi-beam echo sounders.
“When the ROV results showed us a ship that was torpedoed, we realized it was from the war. As the cannons became visible on the screen, we understood it was a huge warship. We were very excited and surprised that the wreck was so big,” Hobberstad said.
“To find such a special war wreck is rare and extra fun for us who work with underwater investigations,” he added.