A Sunken Submarine Full of Mercury: Safe, Controlled Construction of a Counter Fill for Seabed Slope Stabilization at about 155 to 177 Meters

by Per Sparrevik, Subsea Technology Expert; Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, per.sparrevik@ngi.no,
Kjell Hauge, Senior Communications Adviser; Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, kjell.hauge@ngi.no,
Nicholas Lundgard, Head of Communications; Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, nicholas.lundgard@ngi.no,


Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2017, Vol. 21, Issue 6, Pg. 42-46,48-49


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: On December 5, 1944, with World War II still raging and peace in Europe still six months away, the German submarine U-864 set out on her maiden voyage on a secret mission to deliver strategic war supplies to Japan. In her hull, the submarine carried Messerschmitt jet engine parts for use in Japanese aircraft and V-2 missile guidance systems, as well as 67 metric tonnes of the strategic — and highly toxic — element mercury, which was widely used in weapons production at that time. However, on February 9, 1945, the British warship HMS Venturer detected the German submarine off the coast of Bergen, Norway, and fired off all four of its torpedoes. Hearing the incoming weapons, U-864 took evasive manoeuvres and avoided the first three torpedoes, but unknowingly steered into the path of the fourth. The torpedo struck the submarine, splitting her in half and sending her to the depths of the ocean floor approximately two nautical miles offshore, near the island of Fedje in Western Norway. All 73 of the submarine's crew perished.

Subject Headings: Submerging | Mercury (chemical) | Weapons | Occupational safety | Construction management | Fills | Sea floor | Slope stability | Europe | Norway | Japan | Asia

 

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