View Full Version : Norway to raise toxic Nazi submarine wreck

01-30-2009, 05:29 PM
Norway's government has said it plans to surface a Nazi submarine loaded with mercury that sank off its shores in 1945 that poses an environmental hazard.

"The fact that the wreck contains about 67 tonnes of mercury poses a significant threat to the environment," Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Helga Pedersen told AFP on Thursday. "We took this decision out of concern for the environment, the fishermen and the local population," she said.

The U-864 German sub was torpedoed in the North Sea on February 9, 1945 by the British submarine HMS Venturer as it sailed to Japan, a Nazi Germany ally, with its cargo of mercury destined for arms manufacturers and the blueprints for a new modern jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262.

Broken in two, the vessel now lies on the seabed at a depth of 150 metres (almost 500 feet), two nautical miles (3.7 kilometers, 2.3 miles) from Fedje Island off Norway's west coast.

Located in 2003, the wreck has been leaking several kilogrammes (pounds) of mercury a year, an insoluble pollutant that has prompted health concerns among the local population.

The refloating operation is technically complex. The procedure will be carried out by Dutch company Mammoet, which also lifted the Kursk, a Russian nuclear submarine that sank in the Barents Sea in 2000, claiming the lives of its 118 crew.

The operation is expected to take place in 2010, at a cost estimated at up one billion kroner (113 million), according to Norwegian media.

Norwegian coastal authorities had recommended leaving the submarine in place and covering it with a sarcophagus.

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01-30-2009, 06:10 PM
67 tonnes of mercury poses a significant threat to the environment

I reckon.... Wow!

There ought to be some interesting artifacts and such on the sub too.

01-30-2009, 08:16 PM
Getting it raised up without all that mercury breaking out of the hull is going to be quite an endeavour. Why don't they just siphon out the mercury in situ? I know mercury is very dense but it would seem that is more feasible than raising the wreck.

A.T. Hagan
01-30-2009, 10:00 PM
I could be wrong, but given the water temperature off Norway wouldn't the mercury be solid?

67 tons of mercury would have made a heck of a lot of explosives for detonators and primers. By 1945 Japan would have been running out of it with the way we'd sunk her shipping.


blue gecko
01-31-2009, 12:56 PM
Mercury will solidify (freeze) at -38.83 C (-37.89 F)

Auburn Boy
01-31-2009, 02:25 PM
Mercury will solidify (freeze) at -38.83 C (-37.89 F)

Then the question is: How cold are the depths off of Norway? (Probably NOT -38 degrees C..,)

How would Germany have been shipping a large quantity of mercury like that? I would presume it would be sotred in iron "flasks" like has been done historically. (I actually have a flask I recovered from a gold mine.) They hold 76 pounds each.

I would not think that storage in a bilge or in a ballast tank would be a very safe way to transoport it on a sub.