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Americans pumped out fuel from the wreck of "Prinz Eugen"

The US Navy operation to pump fuel out of the wreck of the German cruiser “Prinz Eugen” was a success. The vessel sank in 1946 as a result of negligence on the part of the US Navy, which seized the ship after the end of World War II and used it in atomic weapons tests,
Published: October 18, 2018 - 14:17
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 17:21
Americans pumped out fuel from the wreck of “Prinz Eugen”

The US Navy operation to pump fuel out of the wreck of the German cruiser “Prinz Eugen” was a success. The vessel sank in 1946 as a result of negligence on the part of the US Navy, which seized the ship after the end of World War II and used it in atomic weapons tests, known under the code name “Crossroads”.

We reported on the preparations for the operation to pump out fuel from the tanks of the German cruiser in September. After less than two months, the task was completed and the fuel from “Prinz Eugen” no longer threatens the waters of the Kwajalein Archipelago. In total, since 1 September, more than 946 thousand litres of fuel have been pumped out of the wreck.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”The hard work of our team over the past two years of preparation for this project, and the combination of the right mix of equipment and technical expertise, has allowed us to succeed in this very important mission to protect the pristine waters of Kwajalein Atoll from the risk of a catastrophic fuel release.” – said Stephanie Bocek, Project Manager[/blockquote].

The venture involved more than 20 divers working underwater, using the Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 1 vehicle, supported by two vessels – the USS ‘Salvor’ and the commercial tanker ‘Humber’, which transported the pumped-out fuel.

photo-US-Army-Carrie-David-Campbell-1

[blockquote style=”2″]”There are no longer active leaks and 97% of the fuel has been removed. The remaining oil is contained in several internal tanks unaffected by leaks. Of the total 173 fuel tanks, we have drained 143.” – said Cmdr Lt Tim Emge, the officer in charge of the fuel extraction operation[/blockquote].

During tests in 1946, as part of Operation Crossroads, the Americans dropped two bombs near 80 vessels anchored just off Bikini Atoll. Most of them were annihilated by the atomic bomb blast, but not the German colossus. “Prinz Eugen” emerged from the test almost unscathed. Almost. The ship was so heavily irradiated that mere contact with the ocean surface was dangerous.

The US Navy decided to do something and the ship was towed and cleaned. Unfortunately, during these actions, the ship turned upside down and sank near the Kwajalein Archipelago. The US Navy is not blameless here, as its decisions – at times absurd – seemed to be aimed at such an end, where the problem would disappear under the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

We face a similar problem in the waters of the Gulf of Gdansk, but here the situation is much more complicated. The wreck of the dangerous tanker “Franken” is located at a much greater depth than the cruiser “Prinz Eugen”, and therefore pumping out the fuel is much more complicated and expensive.

Source: navy.mil

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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