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US Navy again in battle with Kriegsmarine ship

73 years after the end of World War II, the American fleet once again takes aim at a Kriegsmarine ship. This time it is not a battle for supremacy on the seas, but an attempt to save the environment, which is threatened by the fuel stored in the wreck of the “Prinz Eugen”. The German
Published: September 23, 2018 - 19:29
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 17:15
US Navy again in battle with Kriegsmarine ship

73 years after the end of World War II, the American fleet once again takes aim at a Kriegsmarine ship. This time it is not a battle for supremacy on the seas, but an attempt to save the environment, which is threatened by the fuel stored in the wreck of the “Prinz Eugen”.

The German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper fell prey to the Americans at the end of the war. The Americans, in turn, fascinated by nuclear weapons, tested them in every possible way. Many ships and vessels owned by the US Navy, including the cruiser “Prinz Eugen”, did not get off the hook.

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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 ending the whole affair in such a way that the problem would disappear under the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

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The ship had approximately 2767 tonnes of oil in its tanks at the time of its sinking. An assessment of the wreck showed that there was a high risk of over 1,000 tonnes leaking into the ocean! A US Navy report on the risk of oil spills, produced in 1974, recommended that the fuel be removed from the wreck within 30 years. The matter was abandoned, however, as ownership of the wreck, was finally transferred in 1986 to… the Marshall Islands.

photo-US-Army-Carrie-David-Campbell-2

The USNS ship “Salvor” (ARS-52) and the tanker “Humber”. The whole operation is supervised by an elite group of US Navy divers. Using a device called a ‘moskito’, the Americans intend to make holes in the hull of the wreck through which fuel can be pumped out of 173 tanks.

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The operation to remove fuel from the wreck of the “Prinz Eugen” is being carried out by Naval Sea Systems Command. It is expected to last until the end of October 2018.

At this point, it is worth recalling that we also face a similar problem in our own backyard. We encourage everyone to to familiarise yourself with the risksthe risk posed by the wreck of the “Franken” oil tanker in the waters of the Gulf of Gdansk and to sign the petition on the MARE Foundation website.

Source: popularmechanics.com
Photo: US Navy / LeighAhn Ferrari

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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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