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Immersion on the wreck of the German battleship Bismarck - film

The battleship Bismarck is a true legend of the Kriegsmarine and one of the most famous ships of World War II. The mighty Bismarck, measuring over 250 metres, inspired fear and awe in the crews of all enemy ships with its sheer size and firepower. The best example of how valuable she was (also for
Published: January 19, 2020 - 19:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 22:39
Immersion on the wreck of the German battleship Bismarck – film

The battleship Bismarck is a true legend of the Kriegsmarine and one of the most famous ships of World War II.

The mighty Bismarck, measuring over 250 metres, inspired fear and awe in the crews of all enemy ships with its sheer size and firepower. The best example of how valuable she was (also for propaganda reasons), is the fact that the command of the Royal Navy threw all available forces in the number of about 30 units to fight against the damaged Bismarck.

warship Bismarck
German warship Bismarck – archive photo
Still impressive

The footage below shows that despite the passage of almost 80 years since the Bismarck was sunk, the battleship is in sensational condition. The wreck was discovered in 1989 during a research expedition organised by Dr Robert Ballard. The vessel rests at an enormous depth of 4,750 metres and is completely beyond the reach of any type of diving.

An interesting fact is that, unlike the vast majority of sunken battleships, Bismarck rested evenly on her keel. This interesting detail was one of the clues that made us believe that it was not a hit from an enemy vessel, but German sailors who sent the ship to the bottom.

Usually because of their enormous weight, units of this type they are found upside down. The positioning of the Bismarck’s wreck is partly due to the fact that when the ship was sinking, it turned upside down and just then the main artillery guns fell out of it. Today they lie not far from the wreck of the battleship, knocked into the bottom upside down. With a long way that separated the sinking ship from the bottom, the battleship made another turn and in this position it stood still for ever.

Indestructible

Despite the massive damage (Bismarck was hit nearly 400 times!), its state of preservation and overall condition is still incredibly impressive. Apart from a 10-metre long fragment of the stern, which broke away from the rest of the ship, the hull remained almost intact. Most of the lighter armament and anti-aircraft guns are still in place. The propellers that once powered the Bismarck are also clearly visible. In addition to the heaviest armament, the broken main mast, rangefinders and many other components lie nearby.

Bismarck's armament
Powerful armament of a German battleship – archive photo

The exploration led by Dr Ballard found no damage to the armoured citadel. On the other hand, eight holes were discovered in the hull of the battleship wreck – one on the starboard and seven on the port side. All of them are above the waterline. One hole is also located in the deck, in the bow section. A further six holes were found amidships. However, no holes were found that could indicate a puncture in the main or side armour. The huge indentations show that most probably the huge 14-inch shells fired by the King George V simply bounced off the ship.

Sunk by its own crew

Robert Ballard also noted that there were no signs of internal implosion. This is a characteristic phenomenon when the hull of a sinking vessel is not fully flooded by water. The difference in pressure between the surrounding water and the air trapped inside would have crushed the ship. Instead, we have a well-preserved hull, which does not show the slightest sign of implosion.

This proves only one but extremely important event. – All of Bismarck’s compartments had previously been flooded by water. Such a situation was only possible if the crew decided to sink their own ship. It is also hardly surprising to them. If Bismarck had fallen into enemy hands, it would not only have become a powerful weapon in the hands of the Allies, but also a huge tool for anti-German propaganda.

Colossus of the Kriegsmarine

The German battleship Bismarck was built in 1940. It measured 251 metres long and 36 metres wide. Its sides were equipped with monstrous armour with a thickness of 320 millimetres! The main armament consisted of eight 380 mm calibre guns, twelve 150 mm calibre guns and sixteen 105 mm calibre guns, which were supplemented by lighter artillery. Only 115 of the 2,200 sailors on board were rescued from the sinking ship on 27 May 1941.

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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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