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Wreck of a WWII cruiser found in Norway

The wreck of the World War II German cruiser “Karlsruhe” has been found in Norwegian coastal waters. The ship was sunk in 1940 and its final resting place remained unknown for almost 80 years. The wreck was found by accident during an inspection of a power cable running along the bottom of the North Sea.
Published: September 8, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:59
Wreck of a WWII cruiser found in Norway

The wreck of the World War II German cruiser “Karlsruhe” has been found in Norwegian coastal waters. The ship was sunk in 1940 and its final resting place remained unknown for almost 80 years. The wreck was found by accident during an inspection of a power cable running along the bottom of the North Sea.

The cruiser, belonging to the German Kriegsmarine, was 174 metres long and took part in the invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940. There is no denying, however, that the ship did not leave a very colourful mark on the battlefield and after being sunk she was forgotten for the next 80 years.

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Wreck of a WWII cruiser found in Norway
Cruiser Karlsruhe – archive photo

“Karlsruhe” first fought unsuccessfully against the coastal artillery, and on the evening of April 9, while on her way back to Germany, she was attacked and hit in the stern with a torpedo by the British submarine HMS “Truant”.

Karlsruhe sonar image divers24.pl
Sonar image of the wreck photo Statnett

Although there was a chance to save the disabled vessel, the command decided to evacuate the crew and sink the ship.

The wreck was first encountered in 2017, during the inspection of a power cable from Norwegian operator Statnett, which has been on the seabed since 1977. The wreck is located 13 Mm from the city of Kristiansand, Norway’s second largest port, at a depth of 490 metres and just 15 metres from the installation connecting Denmark and Norway with the power cable.

Aerial photograph of Karlsruhe divers24.co.uk
Aerial photo of Karlsruhe ship

Now the unknown ship has finally been identified. Scientists working over the past few years to document the wreck have done so on the basis of photographs and sonar scans of the hull, as well as after analysing structural details such as the placement of the gun turrets.

Sonar image of Karlsruhe wreck divers24.co.uk
Image made with sonar photo Statnett

You can read about the fate of the warship Karlsruhe in history books, but no one until now knew where it sank, said Frode Kvaloe of the Norwegian Maritime Museum.

Footage of the Karlsruhe wreck works divers24.co.uk
Karlsruhe cannons – stop frame from Statnett film documentation

Statnett stressed in his press release that if the location of the wreck of the “Karlsruhe” had been known at the time of the creation of the installation running along the bottom, it would certainly have been located at a much greater distance.

Detailed sonar image of the Karlsruhe wreck divers24.co.uk
Detailed sonar image photo Statnett
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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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