Nazi warship sunk by Brit torpedo discovered 1,600ft under the sea

A Nazi warship destroyed by a British submarine has been found off the coast of Norway.

The 174m Karlsruhe cruiser was sunk 80 years ago by a torpedo while it was returning from Germany's invasion of Norway.

Its wreckage has now finally been found 13 nautical miles from the Norwegian port of Kristiansand.

The Karlsruhe was detected about 15m from a sub-sea power cable that has been in operation since 1977. Norwegian power grid operator Statnett say the cable, which connects Norway with Denmark, would have been laid further away if the ship's location had been known at the time.

It was built in the 1920s and was later fitted with a Nazi swastika which was visible in sub-sea photographs, helping experts to identify it. Sonar scans of its hull and turrets also helped with identification.

Nazi Germany launched its Norwegian invasion on April 9 1940, forcing the government and the king to flee to Britain, where they remained in exile until the end of the war.

The Karlsruhe formed part of the invasion force but was struck by a British submarine torpedo shortly after embarking on its return voyage. The ship's crew evacuated and the Germans sunk their own vessel.

It has rested upright on the seabed at a depth of 490m for the last eight decades, approximately 24km off the coast of Norway.

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"The Karlsruhe stands firmly 490m below sea level with cannons pointing menacingly into the sea," Frode Kvalø, archaeologist and researcher at the Norwegian Maritime Museum, said in a statement.

"With the main battery of nine cannons in three triple turrets, this was the largest and most fearsome ship in the attack group against Kristiansand."

It's the oldest shipwreck ever found in Norwegian waters. The German battle cruiser Scharnhorst was significantly larger, but it was found outside the Norwegian territorial border in the Barents Sea.

May-Brith Ohman Nielsen, a professor of history at the University of Agder, said the wreck can shed new light on the outbreak of war.

"We can learn something about interpreting sources by looking at the relationship between the information we have had for a long time about where the ship went down – and where it has actually been found," Nielsen told national broadcaster NRK.

There are currently no plans to salvage the wreck because of its size and depth beneath the sea.

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