We’re in the Baltic Sea, an area that’s basically a northern outpost of the Atlantic Ocean. Under its cold waters, off the coast of Poland, there’s a ticking time bomb concealed beneath the waves, a horrible legacy of the Second World War. It’s a sunken ship and if its cargo leaks into the sea, environmental catastrophe will surely follow.
The sunken ship, the Franken, is an old German merchant ship. Construction of the vessel started way back in 1937 at the Germaniawerft shipyard in Germany’s Baltic Sea port city of Kiel. Although it built merchant vessels like the Franken, the yard was perhaps best known during WWII for building U-boats. The shipbuilders, in fact, completed 84 German submarines during the conflict.
So, when WWII erupted across Europe in 1939, workers at Germaniawerft had not yet completed the Franken. And with the wartime demand for fighting vessels such as U-boats, the ship languished unfinished in the yard until 1942. That year, the Germans moved the vessel to the Burmeister & Wain shipbuilders in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. Germany had, in fact, invaded Denmark in 1940.