The wreck of long-lost WW2 German light cruiser the Karlsruhe has been discovered off southern Norway 80 years after her sinking, sitting upright at a depth of almost half a kilometre.
The discovery was made by Norwegian state energy company Statnett.
The second ship of the Konigsberg cruiser class, the Karlsruhe was launched in 1927 and operated before the war as a training cruiser for naval cadets in the Reichsmarine, before being modernised to serve with the Kriegsmarine. She was 174m long, armed with nine 15cm guns and had a top speed of 32 knots.
The Karlsruhe led an attack group that took the city of Kristiansand on 9 April, 1940 during Operation Weserübung, Nazi Germany’s invasion of Norway and Denmark.
Karlsruhe landed troops at Kristiansand but, having already come under fire and sustained damage from Norwegian artillery, she was struck by two torpedoes from the submarine HMS Truant, and was finally scuttled by a German torpedo boat.
Until now the vessel had remained the only large German warship lost in the assault on Norway that had not subsequently been located on the seabed.
As it turned out, the wreck lay a mere 15m from an undersea power cable running between Norway and Denmark, 13 nautical miles from Kristiansand.
Sonar-scanning had revealed it as a mystery wreck during routine inspection work three years ago, but it was only this summer that Statnett’s senior project engineer Ole Petter Hobberstad had the chance to investigate further.
He used a remotely operated vehicle and multi-beam echo-sounders from the offshore vessel Olympic Taurus. “When the ROV results showed us a ship that was torpedoed, we realised that it was from the war,” said Hobberstad. “As the cannon became visible on the screen, we understood that it was a huge warship. We were very excited and surprised that the wreck was so big.