Survey near Orkney ‘finds wreck of a Swedish ship sunk by the Nazis’

Deep sea survey off the coast of Orkney ‘finds wreckage of a Swedish cargo ship sunk by the Nazis in 1940’

  • Scientists detected the wreck while acoustically mapping the sea floor 
  • The vessel is thought to have been the Swedish merchant ship the M/S Lagaholm
  • The cargo ship was stopped and sunk in a German U-boat raid in World War II
  • One crew-member died in the attack with the rest reaching land or rescue safely

Scientists conducting a deep sea survey off of the coast of Orkney have spotted the wreckage of a ship, believed to have been sunk by a Nazi U-boat in 1940.

The vessel, likely the M/S Lagaholm, was stopped by the German submarine during a voyage between New York and its home port of Gothenburg, in Sweden.

One sailor died in the raid. The Nazis interrogated the crew before sending them in the direction of shore in the Lagaholm’s lifeboats, before shelling the vessel.

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‘Whilst #multibeaming we may have found a wreck,’ Joint Nature Conservation Committee marine scientist Tom Tangye wrote on Twitter

WHAT WAS THE M/S LAGAHOLM? 

The M/S Lagaholm was a Swedish merchant vessel out of Gothenburg.

Built in 1929, she was owned by the Swedish America–Mexico Line. 

She weight 2,818 tons, a max speed of 13 knots and was 348 feet (106 metres) long by 47 feet (14.2 metres) wide.

She was sunk by gunfire after being stopped by the Nazi submarine U-32 on March 2, 1940.

One crew member was reported lost in the attack.

The sunken vessel was spotted in the West Shetland Shelf Marine Protected Area off of the coast of Orkney during a seafloor survey by researchers from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Marine Scotland Science.

The survey team are studying the seafloor and its habitats in various ways — from camera footage to acoustic scans that can map the topography of the seafloor.

‘Whilst #multibeaming we may have found a wreck,’ JNCC marine scientist Tom Tangye wrote on Twitter.

The vessel the researchers picked up in their scan is believed to be that of the M/S Lagaholm, a Swedish cargo vessel out of Gothenburg. 

The Lagaholm went down after being stopped by the Nazi German submarine U-32 on March 2, 1940, during a routine voyage between New York and Gothenburg.

The German vessel fired a shot across the Lagaholm’s bow, despite Sweden being neutral during World War II and the merchant vessel being well lit and displaying signs of her neutrality.

The Lagaholm’s captain, Erik Rudolf Berg, ordered the evacuation of the crew into lifeboats, after which they were questioned by the Nazi sailors before the U-boat sank the merchant vessel with 40 rounds of gunfire.

The vessel the researchers picked up in their scan is believed to be that of the M/S Lagaholm, pictured, a Swedish cargo vessel, which was sunk by a German U-boat on  March 2, 1940

The U-32, captained by Oberleutnant Hans Jenisch, went on to continue raiding operations in the war, famously sinking the ocean liner the RMS Empress of Britain

One crew member was reported lost in the attack, which took place around 92 miles (148 kilometres) west of Kirkwall, Orkney’s largest town, where the Lagaholm had been ordered to make port for a contraband inspection.

One lifeboat, with 13 crew aboard, made it to Orkney safely. The 14 sailors aboard the other were rescued six hours later by the Norwegian motor ship Belpamela.

The merchant vessel had been carrying 4,700 tons of cargo — including aluminium ingots, copper, brass, engines, chemicals and mail — at the time she went down. 

The U-32, which was captained by Oberleutnant Hans Jenisch, went on to continue raiding operations in the war, famously sinking the ocean liner the RMS Empress of Britain, the largest ship ever sunk by a U-boat.

She was ultimately sunk off the northwestern Irish coast on October 30, 1940, having been damaged by depth charges launched from the British destroyers Harvester and Highlander, with the majority of the crew taken prisoner.

The survey team are studying the seafloor and its habitats in various ways — from camera footage to acoustic scans that can map the topography of the seafloor

The sunken vessel was spotted in the West Shetland Shelf Marine Protected Area off of the coast of Orkney during a seafloor survey by researchers from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Marine Scotland Science

 

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