Salvage Team Prepares to Raise WWII Ship


Dec 2, 2000
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From DW-WORLD.DE

quote:

A German battleship that terrorized the South Atlantic during the early days of World War II is to begin its journey back to the surface from its resting place off the coast of Uruguay this week.

A multimillion euro effort to raise a German battleship that has lain at the bottom of the River Plate estuary in Uruguay since it sank during World War II will begin this week, weather conditions permitting.

Salvage work to exhume large segments of the Admiral Graf Spee from the silt in which it has resided for the best part of 60 years is expected to start either on Thursday or Friday. The start depends on the status of the high winds and choppy waters which are making preparations difficult on the broad waterway separating Uruguay from Argentina.
For the rest of the story, go to 1430_A_1104786_1_A%2C00.html,http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,,1430_A_1104786_1_A,00.html

Comment: Okay, so these people want to make a museum out of the gutted and burned out remains of the Admiral Graf Spee. Even granting that the wreck is in better shape then previously believed, conservation of that much steel that has been underwater since 1939 is going to be nightmarishly expensive. So the big question is: From where is the money to fund this ambitious project to come?​
 
Dec 2, 2000
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The website Andrew posted saidJim's there as an invited guest, but makes no mention of filming. I hope he is though. I wouldn't mind seeing this group achieve it's goal of restoring the vessel as far as possibe and making a museum out of her. Still, it's going to be a long, tough, and expensive road.
 

Erik Wood

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This is the first that I have heard of this. It sounds quite an impressive understaking. I hope they achieve what they set out to do. But even if the wreck is in good condition, how will they make it safe as a museum????
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Personally, this idea of raising the Graf Spee makes me feel a bit queasy. Capt. Langsdorf was probably the last example of the old-fashioned 'honourable' officer in WW2, and he killed himself after scuttling the ship. He belonged to an era when ships stopped to pick up enemy survivors and tried to minimise casualties. That came to an end. He died thinking he had denied his ship to the enemy and saved lives in doing so, and I think his ship should lie where it is.
 

Tom Lear

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Also, when you see the photos from 1939 of the scuttling, the ship was damaged considerably. So claims of it being in good condition now...... relative to what, I wonder? What's their baseline for making such a claim? Will they take the hull and then try and rebuild the superstructure on top?

Also, the timing is 30 years off.... Where were these folks when the Goeben was scrapped in '72? At least that wasn't a Nazi warship. Think of the magnet the Graf Spee could become for skinheads and those types of characters; not a pretty sight.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What's their baseline for making such a claim?<<

On site examination of the wreck I would suppose. And why assume the ship would become a sort of Mecca for neo-Nazi types? The U-505 hasn't attracted that kind of attention, nor has the U-Boat raised and put on display in the U.K. and they're a lot easier to get to for these sorts of people then Uraguay.
 

Andrew Fanner

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Even Prinz Eugen's prop at Wilhelmshaven (IIRC) is seen as a memorial to the dead rather than a rallying point for political troublemakers of either extreme. I don't see Graf Spee being a problem, although a few Argentinians whose parents arrived suddenly in 1945 might show interest:) I would see the real issue for most of us being sheer inaccessibility, Montevideo being a tidy step from Portsmouth.

The ship was very professionally wrecked as part of the scuttling process, as much as anything else to prevent the British from examining the ship's secret equipment (which they still tried to do, a diver was killed in the process) and I suspect that most of what is left is a lot of elderly steel. But I hope they succeed.

There was a film, Battle of the River Plate. Its a bit grim and the Graf Spee stand in is a bit over supplied with guns (being a USN cruiser!) and rather unconvincing but one of the British ships is, in fact, an original.
 

Erik Wood

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This whole endavour is interesting to me. There are a large number (to include myself) of folk out there interested in the German U-boat. The U-boats have history behind them and widely publsized story. The Graf Spee is known but I don't think as popular and isn't an instant symbol of Germany in either world war, where as I think the U-boat is.

I tend to believe that there isn't much left of the interior of the wreck and that it is probably just steel comopartments now, although fresh water has a habit of keeping things eerily in tact for many years. I am very interested to see if this comes to reality and if it does I may take a trip to see her.
 

Erik Wood

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It has been done before and I am sure will be done again but I will be very interested to see what happens.

After all it isn't everyday that they take one out of the water and make a museum.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Andrew, it helps to know that the Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled in fairly shallow water. I don't believe anybody with an I.Q. approaching room temperature would even think about attempting a project like this in deeper water, or if the ship was substantially larger then what was essentially an over gunned long range cruiser.

We need to be mindful of the fact that making a museum of the vessel is the plan, but for reasons I already explained, I'm very skeptical of the whole scheme. I hope it happens, but since fiscal reality may well rear it's ugly head, I'll believe it when I see it!
 

Dennis Smith

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Michael,

Just a bit of info which I received whilst going to B.A. not long after the Falklands do. We picked the Pilot up at Montevideo and I noticed that the Pilot boat was unlike any Pilot boat I'd ever seen before, a very old looking craft. The pilot told us that it was one of the motorised launches/gigs off the Graf Spee. I,m not certain that it's true, but if it is I would have thought someone would have picked up on it and put it in a museum or something. You can only go by what the locals tell you and as we were only passing there was no way anyone could verify the story.

Best wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Kevin, if you check out the link to the first article in this thread, (Assuming it's still active.) you'll see that the plan is to make a maritme museum out of her. Whether this plan actually survives first contact with reality is another matter. It would seem that the people behind this enterprise had a tough time just getting a 27 ton section up to daylight and they're not even out on the open ocean. The River Platte is not going to give up her prize willingly.
 

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