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SMS Scharnhorst Found Off Falklands

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Certainly been the year for finding wrecks.
    "Mensun Bound, the leader of the mission which discovered the flagship of Admiral Graf von Spee's squadron, was born in the Falkland Islands and since a child has been obsessed with the sea, its mysteries, myths and the great Battle of the Falkland Islands, a decisive naval action at the start of the Great War of 1914.
    In his words he will tell us how the mighty Scharnhorst was finally discovered, “lawn mowing” the bottom of the sea as well as the many years he has been after this feat, which will continue until other vessels are located, particularly the Gneisenau, sister ship of the Scharnhorst.
    Mensun has also searched extensively about the life and character of the great German admiral, who lost two sons, naval officers, in the Battle, and gives us a vivid picture of events and strategies leading to the Battle and its consequences.
    “The problem was that following the Battle, the British really didn’t know where they were. When it was all over, the navigating officers from the ships got together to try to work out the position. They would look unprofessional if they had to admit they did not know where exactly the Battle had been fought. There was not much to go on. No log-lines were out to give them the distance covered. They had been zig-zagging everywhere. Compass deviation was exceptionally great from the vibration and heat and, of course, the ship shuddered every time it discharged the main guns or was hit by incoming projectiles. And there was deep cloud cover that prevented any sun-sights with the sextant. Obviously there was no radar at that time.
    Our search box was vast - 40 X 30 nautical miles (4500 km2). It had taken me five long months in ripping Cape Horn seas to cover this area in 2014/2015 using technologically old, towed, side-scan systems. With Ocean Infinity’s fleet of the latest Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), we divided the area up into six search zones, one per AUV. It meant we could cover the whole area in several days. In the event, it was the first AUV down (i.e. dive no. 1), covering the north east corner, that found the Scharnhorst on the second day. We didn’t know this until later because we do not monitor what is happening in real time. During the mission the data is banked and then, once the AUV is back in the hanger, we download the data which is then converted into a legible format for analysis.
    The grand irony of it all is that we found the Scharnhorst by accident. The search is conducted along a series of parallel lines – ‘mowing the lawn‘ it is called – and at the end of every line the AUV passes outside the search box to perform its turn into the next line. It was on the turn that the AUV passed over the Scharnhorst."
    Suddenly out of the deep sea gloom emerged the mighty Scharnhorst with her great guns poking in every direction
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    A good article, Gordon. I guess as technology gets better the chance of finding these "lost" ships increases. You're right, this has certainly been a banner year for locating wrecks.
     
  3. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Nice find! I enjoyed the article.
     
  4. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Always amazes me how they manage to find an exact vessel out of the tens of thousands which must litter the seabed.
     
  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Needle in a stack of needles in a very large haystack.
     
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