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Wreck of the German cruiser SMS "Scharnhorst" found - video

The wreck of the German armoured cruiser SMS “Scharnhorst” has been found in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, near the Falkland Islands. The Kaiserlischemarine ship was sunk during the First World War, on 8 December 1914, in a clash with the British Royal Navy. The finding and identification of the wreck was announced by
Published: December 5, 2019 - 12:30
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:55
Wreck of the German cruiser SMS “Scharnhorst” found – video

The wreck of the German armoured cruiser SMS “Scharnhorst” has been found in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, near the Falkland Islands. The Kaiserlischemarine ship was sunk during the First World War, on 8 December 1914, in a clash with the British Royal Navy. The finding and identification of the wreck was announced by The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

Locating the wreck of the cruiser is a landmark discovery, and is a prelude to finding the entire German squadron, which was wrecked and sunk during a naval battle in December 1914. The project itself had already started 5 years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Falkland Islands, unfortunately it ended in failure. Now the mission has been relaunched and scientists have state-of-the-art equipment for undersea exploration at their disposal.

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The search work was mainly based on 4 AUVs that combed the seabed over an area of 4,500 km². A methodical search supported by the use of side scan sonar and sonar yielded results on the third day of the expedition. 98 Mm south-east of Port Stanley, at a depth of 1610 m, the wreck of a German ship was found.

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The Battle of the Falklands was a key naval clash at the start of the First World War. The Germans suffered a severe defeat here, with huge losses. 2 armoured cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 2 transport ships went down. About 2200 sailors were killed, including the commanding officer of the German fleet, Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee, and 215 were taken prisoner. In turn, losses on the British side were 10 sailors killed and 19 wounded. As a result of this clash, the German East Asia Cruiser Squadron, the only permanent naval formation outside the Reich, ceased to exist.

The search is being conducted using Swire Seabed’s fantastic Seabed Constructor vessel, which has been in the fleet of UK-based Ocean Infinity since 2016 and has a track record of successful exploration projects, with everything a wreck search team could want.

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The SMS “Scharnhorst” named after General Gerhard J. D. von Scharnhorst, was the flagship of the East Asian Cruiser Squadron(Ostasiengeschwader) of Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee. The vessel, built in 1905, measured 144.6 metres long and 21.6 metres wide. She could develop a top speed of 23.5 knots and had an operational range of 6500 Mm, while maintaining an economy speed of 12 knots.

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The Falkland Maritime Heritage Trust is now seeking formal protection for the site. The wreck has not been explored or the final resting place of hundreds of German sailors disturbed in any way. The research team on board the Seabed Constructor also held a ceremony in memory of all those who died in the battle.

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Source: Falkland Maritime Heritage Trust

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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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