Armored cruiser from the First World War located in the South Atlantic at 1,610 meters
The German Admiral Graf von Spee waged a naval battle with the British during the First World War in the South Atlantic. Two armored cruisers were sunk - the "SMS Gneisenau" and her sister ship, the "SMS Scharnhorst". Now researchers found the wreck of Scharnhorst at the bottom of the South Atlantic.
105 years ago, on December 8, 1914, the flagship of the German East Asia Squad suddenly faced a superior force of the Royal Navy during the First World War. The naval battle in the Falkland Islands ended in catastrophe for the two Scharnhorst-class cruisers – the "SMS Scharnhorst" and the "SMS Gneisenau" - as well as other warships of the Imperial Navy. The 144-meter-long armored cruiser "SMS Scharnhorst" sank after enemy fire, including his commander Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee and 860 man crew. The identical "SMS Gneisenau" sank a few hours later - the crew sank the ship itself after the ammunition was out.
According to British researchers, the wreckage of "SMS Scharnhorst" is now located in the South Atlantic off the Falkland Islands. This was announced by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust. It was found 98 nautical miles southeast of Stanley at a depth of 1,610 meters. From the search ship "Seabed Constructor" four autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) were used, which explored a search field of approximately 4,500 km2 seabed.
"The moment of discovery was extraordinary, we often hunt ‘shadows’ on the seabed, but when the ship first appeared, there was no doubt that it was one of the two German ships." We sent an underwater robot down to explore Suddenly the wreck emerged from the darkness, with large cannons pointing in all directions," said expedition leader Mensun Bound.
"At first we did not know if we had found 'SMS Scharnhorst' or 'SMS Gneisenau'. The images made clear that an intact, upright wreck complete with impact crater had been found. It was also clear that we found a Scharnhorst-class cruiser.” However, later examination of the high-quality ROV footage revealed that the crest was missing from the bow, so the team could not be sure whether they had found the Scharnhorst or its sister-ship. Detailed analysis of old photographs revealed that the position of the upper portholes in the hull differed enough between the two vessels for a positive identification to be made.
The Falkland Maritime Heritage Trust now wants to protect the marine area around the wreck. The wreck of the "Scharnhorst" was not touched during the exploration. The search team aboard the Seabed Constructor commemorated on the spot all those who lost their lives during the battle.
11th December 2019