Divers Explored The Titanic For The First Time In 14 Years – And They Made A Haunting Discovery

It’s August 2019, and the two-strong crew of the Limiting Factor mini-sub are descending into the depths of the Atlantic. Diving around 370 miles from the Newfoundland coastline, the sub finally reaches the seabed some 12,500 feet below the water. And the men aboard her will then go on to see a stunning sight that no one has witnessed first-hand for 14 years: the rusting wreck of RMS Titanic. While investigating the remains of the famous ship, though, the divers come across something truly haunting.

One hundred and seven years after tragically sinking, then, the Titanic still has the power to shock and move. After all, the famous ship was once far more than just a wreck. Even though her maiden voyage was ultimately doomed, you see, the Titanic was initially launched to considerable fanfare when she set off from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912. The ship’s first port of call was in fact Cherbourg on the northern coast of France – a short hop across the English Channel. And from there, she sailed on to what was then Queenstown – now Cobh – in County Cork on Ireland’s south coast.

Then, after picking up more passengers in Queenstown, at 1:30 p.m. on April 11 the Titanic set off on a westward course to cross the Atlantic to New York City. As midnight approached three days later, though, the liner was some 375 miles to the south of Canada’s Newfoundland. And at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, an iceberg ripped along the starboard of the ship.

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The impact of the massive iceberg did not actually breach the hull – but it did bend the ship’s steel plates out of shape so that gaps appeared between them. Icy Atlantic water therefore began to flow through the rifts into five of the vessel’s 16 watertight sections. And as the craft was designed to cope with just four of those compartments failing, the disastrous strike was the beginning of the end for the Titanic.

A little more than two and a half hours after the collision with the iceberg, then, the Titanic plunged below the waves. There were 2,224 souls aboard the allegedly unsinkable ship – with around 1,500 of those men, women and children ultimately losing their lives in the freezing sea. Some 1,000 people were in fact still aboard the liner as she dropped 12,500 feet to the bottom of the Atlantic.

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More than a century later, the Limiting Factor mini-sub traveled almost two and a half miles below the Atlantic’s surface to the wreck of the Titanic. And what they discovered down in the depths brought the ship’s tragedy into even sharper focus. You see, the Titanic had actually been one of three massive ships of the Olympic class to be built in the golden era of transatlantic ocean liners.

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In fact, the Titanic had been the second of the three Olympic liners to be constructed – preceded by the Olympic and followed by the Britannic. And all were part of the White Star Line’s fleet. Yet the ships’ conception actually originated during a conversation between White Star’s boss, the Brit J. Bruce Ismay, and legendary American tycoon J.P. Morgan.

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You see, the White Star Line’s rivals – such as Cunard – had been stealing a march on the company. Ismay decided, then, that the firm’s future success lay not in more speed but in increased size. So the Olympic-class behemoths would not only be the largest passenger ships on the planet, but they’d also be the most extravagantly opulent – for the first-class passengers, anyway.

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Construction of the Titanic herself started on the last day of March 1909 at the Harland and Wolf shipyard in Belfast – with the process taking more than two years. Because even though Harland and Wolf had been building ships for the White Star Line for more than four decades, the Olympic vessels were the largest ever made at that point and so required massive feats of engineering.

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The hull of the Titanic, for example, consisted of some 2,000 steel plates that were each up to six feet across and 30 feet long. Its up to one and a half inch-thick plates also weighed as much as three tons apiece. Three million rivets held the steel plates in place, too, with these coming in at an astonishing 1,200 tons in total. And building the ship was also very dangerous; nine workers lost their lives during her construction, with another 246 ending up injured.

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What awaited the first-class passengers, though, was nothing short of sheer luxury. Those lucky enough to hold such tickets could enjoy the use of facilities such as a gym, a swimming pool and a Turkish bath. They could also dine in the Café Parisien on such delicacies as roast duckling, pâté de foie gras and peaches in Chartreuse jelly.

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Naturally, third-class passengers did not have access to the no-expense-spared treatment enjoyed by those in first. Still, conditions were better than those on other shipping lines of the day. There were common rooms for leisure, for example, while children could play on the poop deck. Third-class cabins accommodating two to six passengers were also equipped with electricity, heating and running water.

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Once completed, the Titanic was over 880 feet from bow to stern, 175 feet from her bottom to the tops of the funnels and over 90 feet across her beam. She also possessed a displacement of an astonishing 52,310 tons, with 29 boilers powering the engines that drove the four propellers. Ominously, though, the Titanic held only 20 lifeboats with a total capacity of 1,178 people – and there were 2,224 on board when she hit the iceberg.

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The lifeboats, of course, were to be of critical importance. The Titanic shipped 14 wooden lifeboats as well as four collapsible boats and two cutters. Yet she actually had enough launching gear for 64 wooden lifeboats that could have carried 4,000 people – more than the maximum number of passengers and crew, which came in at 3,547. But the White Star Line made the fateful decision that 20 lifeboats were enough.

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That said, the Titanic’s lifeboat complement actually exceeded the British maritime regulations. These ruled that any ship of over 10,000 tons – such as the Titanic – needed only carry 16 lifeboats with a total capacity of 990. Naturally, inquiries after the disaster would focus on the shortcomings of these edicts.

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So, RMS Titanic was up to code in that respect when her launch came on May 31, 1911. That grand event was watched by a crowd of 100,000, who witnessed the huge vessel travel down a slipway that had been lubricated with 22 tons of animal fat and soap. And in just 62 seconds, the great ship slid into the River Lagan. From that moment, the Titanic became the largest man-made object floating on water anywhere in the world.

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But although there was ostensibly cause for great celebration, tragedy also haunted the launch. James Dobbin, a shipwright, was one of those knocking away the huge timbers that had supported the ship before it made its first passage into the water. And in the process, one of the massive planks fell on Dobbin, with the man sadly dying of his injuries two days later. With hindsight, it’s all too easy to interpret this as an extremely bad omen for the Titanic.

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Even once the hull of the Titanic was in the water, however, there was still much work to do. The next year, then, was spent in finishing the interior and attaching various bits of the superstructure, including fitting the ship’s distinctive set of four funnels. Only three of those emitted fumes from the engines, though; the fourth was actually a dummy that acted as ventilation for the kitchens.

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Then, following the fitting out, the Titanic went through a series of sea trials that began on April 2, 1912. At this point, there were only eight days to go before the liner was due to embark on her maiden voyage from Southampton. Thankfully for all concerned, then, the ship was ultimately judged to be fully oceanworthy after she had been put through her paces in the Irish Sea.

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So, as we’ve previously mentioned, the Titanic ultimately set sail from Southampton before stopping briefly at Cherbourg and Queenstown to pick up extra passengers for her first voyage to America’s east coast. The White Star Line’s most senior captain, Edward Smith, took charge of the new ship and her crew of 885 – only 23 of whom were women. Sixty-six of the employees worked on deck, while 325 toiled below as engineers and stokers.

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And a total of 494 crew were aboard to serve the passengers in one way or other, with the variety of tradespeople aboard being enough to run a small city. There were fishmongers, chefs, butchers, bakers and waiters to feed the passengers, for instance. Elsewhere, dishwashers, laundrymen, bed-makers and cleaners kept everything spick and span, while a printer published a daily newspaper, the Atlantic Daily Bulletin. There were eight musicians on board, too.

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When it came to the passengers, meanwhile, 709 traveled third class – also known as steerage – while 284 were in second class and 324 enjoyed the opulence of first class. There were 896 men among the passengers along with 447 women and 107 children – most of whom were in steerage. But while the Titanic could carry up to 2,453 people, only 1,317 were aboard for that maiden voyage.

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And on the face of it, the low numbers may appear strange. The ship had enjoyed a huge amount of publicity, after all, and in normal circumstances the White Star Line would have expected to fill such a vessel – especially on its first crossing. But there had been a major coal strike in the U.K., which had disrupted travel arrangements and caused many to reschedule their plans.

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Among those who did climb on board the Titanic, however, there were some extremely eminent and well-to-do individuals. For starters, there was the super-rich American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, who came with his butler, chauffeur, mistress Léontine Aubart and her maid. Then there was the fabulously wealthy John Jacob Astor IV and his wife, Madeleine. Sadly, Guggenheim, his butler and his chauffeur all perished after the iceberg strike, as did Astor.

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Isidor Straus, owner of Macy’s department store, and his wife, Ida, were also both aboard, with neither surviving the disaster. Canadian entrepreneur and politician Harry Molson lost his life, too, as a result of the ship’s fate. However, managing director of White Star Lines Ismay – who presumably had some say in the numbers of lifeboats aboard the liner – ultimately survived the sinking.

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Yes, Ismay boarded the last lifeboat to be launched from the vessel’s starboard side, although many later accused him of cowardice. The ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, was not so lucky; after helping others escape, he perished in the sinking. And while J.P. Morgan – the ultimate owner of White Star – was set to be one of the passengers on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, he had changed his plans at the last minute – a lucky escape indeed.

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Of course, most of those who died were neither rich nor famous, as the fatal iceberg had no concern for social class or money. The block in question was first spotted by British crewman Frederick Fleet at 11:40 p.m. by the ship’s time on April 14, 1912. And while attempts were made to take evasive action, there was too little time to change course – meaning the Titanic would plough straight into the ice.

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Then, the first sign that the ship was doomed came with the lowering of the bows. This put the Titanic at an angle, which in turn worsened the flow of water through her hull. Chaos subsequently erupted on the stricken liner, with poorly trained crewmen launching lifeboats when they had only been partially loaded. To make matters even worse, many of the steerage passengers were also trapped below deck.

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And at around 2:10 a.m. on April 15, the Titanic had started to sink increasingly quickly. The ship’s rear section was now out of the water altogether, and the liner broke in two. Then, ten minutes later, the stern – the last part of the vessel above the surface – plunged beneath the waves. Those who had been clinging to the rear end were thus cast into the icy waters, leaving them to die from exposure.

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Yet while the disaster spelled the end of the “unsinkable” Titanic, that was far from the end of her story. Understandably, a horrified public demanded answers as to how this unthinkable tragedy could have happened. And public inquiries in both Britain and the U.S. came up with some conclusions. For one, it was said that there had been too few lifeboats. In addition, it was claimed that Captain Smith – who had died in the sinking – had paid too little attention to iceberg warnings, while the liner herself had apparently been cruising at too high a speed.

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And for decades, the exact location of the Titanic was unknown. Soon after she had sunk, relatives of some of the wealthy casualties raised money to look for the wreck, but the diving technology of the day could not reach anywhere near the depths where the vessel lay. One gruesome suggestion was to drop dynamite on the ship, forcing bodies to rise to the surface.

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This idea was entirely impractical, of course – not least because no one actually knew where the remains of the Titanic were exactly. Other hare-brained schemes included raising the wreck with huge magnets or bringing her to the surface with balloons. Perhaps the maddest plan, however, was proposed in the 1970s. This suggestion was to fill the hull with ping-pong balls to float the broken vessel up to the surface.

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In the end, though, more than 70 years passed before a French-American team found the wreck of the Titanic. Robert Ballard from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and others located the remains of the ship using a remotely controlled sub called Argo, with photographs of what the vessel had found going on to be published around the world. Further manned subs visited the Titanic in the years that followed, too, although the last such expedition came in 2005.

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And that brings us back to the crew of the mini-submarine Limiting Factor. You’ll remember that we last saw them at a depth of 12,500 feet, where they were gazing at the mangled remains of the Titanic. What’s more, the men were able to take some stunning images using the high-tech 4K cameras aboard their vessel.

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Victor Vescovo, diver and boss of Caladan Oceanic, led this August 2019 expedition – the first of its kind for nearly a decade and a half. Vescovo was also one of those who took part in some of the five dives that Limiting Factor made, with other team members including Titanic history expert Parks Stephenson and lead planner Rob McCallum. But what the intrepid voyagers ultimately found at the location of the wreck was deeply shocking.

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You see, the detritus of the Titanic is disappearing quickly. And Patrick Lahey – expedition member and president of Limiting Factor owner Triton Submarines – explained as much in a press release from Triton. Lahey revealed, “The most fascinating aspect [of the expedition] was seeing how the Titanic is being consumed by the ocean and returning to its elemental form while providing refuge for a remarkably diverse number of animals.”

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And much has vanished, too. For example, one artifact known as the “captain’s bathtub” – which has become famous thanks to various photographs – is no longer to be seen at the site. But what is left of the ship – as well as the thriving undersea wildlife that lives on the wreck – has been stunningly captured in the 4K footage that the divers were able to shoot.

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Stephenson emphasized the state of the vessel, too, when in August 2019 he told the BBC in August 2019, “[The] Titanic is returning to nature.” Powerful ocean currents, the corrosive action of salt water and bacteria that eat metal are all contributing to the disappearance of the the ship’s wreck.

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Yet as the Titanic has sat 12,500 feet below the ocean surface for over a century, perhaps her disintegration should come as no surprise. Expedition scientist Clare Fitzsimmons added, “There are microbes on the shipwreck that are eating away the iron of the wreck itself [and] creating ‘rusticle’ structures, which is a much weaker form of the metal.”

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Sadly, rusticles turn to dust when disturbed, putting the Titanic in danger of eventually disappearing. It appears, then, that the ship – along with those who lost their lives in the sinking – is gradually breaking up into the sea in which she sank over a century ago.

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But while arguably the most famous, the Titanic isn’t the only shipwreck that continues to fascinate – and haunt – experts. In the depths of the Baltic Sea, for instance, there’s what researchers have called a ticking time bomb. You see, just like the Titanic, this sunken ship is disintegrating, but if its cargo ends up leaking into the sea, it could have devastating effects.

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The vessel that may eventually do irrevocable harm to our planet is the Franken – an old German merchant ship that had been constructed at the Germaniawerft shipyard in the Baltic Sea port city of Kiel. But although the yard played its part in building merchant vessels such as the Franken, it was perhaps best known during WWII for the creation of U-boats. There, shipbuilders completed 84 such German submarines during the conflict.

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However, when WWII erupted across Europe in 1939, workers at Germaniawerft had not yet put the final touches to the Franken. And thanks to the wartime demand for fighting vessels such as U-boats, the ship thus languished unfinished in the yard until 1942. That year, though, the Germans moved the Franken to the Burmeister & Wain shipbuilders in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, as the Nazis had previously invaded Denmark in 1940.

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Burmeister & Wain eventually finished the Franken, too, and she received her commission in March of 1943. The Franken then went into service on the Baltic Sea as a tanker and supply ship, supporting vessels such as the German Navy’s heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen during the later stages of the war. She also carried fuel and other supplies to various minesweepers, torpedo boats and patrol craft.

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More specifically, the Franken belonged to the class of Dithmarschen tankers and supply ships – of which the Germans built five in total. And these vessels were all intended to transport essential supplies – such as ammunition, fuel and spares – to warships and other craft on active service. They also had the capacity to tow disabled naval ships to safety.

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The Franken itself, meanwhile, sailed from two ports that were both located in the Bay of Gdańsk. One was Hel in Poland, which the Germans called Hela after they invaded the country on September 1, 1939. Yet the Hel Peninsula – which was defended by some 3,000 soldiers – was one of the last hold-outs against the Nazi assault. And just before the Poles surrendered, they detonated a bunch of torpedoes, with the ensuing blast turning the peninsula into an island.

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Conversely, Hel was one of the last pieces of Polish territory to be liberated at the end of the war. During their occupation of the port, the Germans had used the location to coach U-boat crew members, and troops fought on for six more days after their country’s surrender before finally giving up. But the Franken also sailed from another nearby port, Gdyni, which the Germans called Gotenhafen.

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In fact, the Baltic Sea had become an increasingly important WWII theater as the Soviets pushed back the Nazis from Russia and the Baltic countries. And in 1945 things hotted up even more as the Red Army began to enter German-held territory. The German Navy had no choice, then, but to evacuate both soldiers and civilians across the sea from Estonia. Russian submarines and aircraft also went on to attack Nazi craft in the area.

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So, on April 8, 1945, an airborne Russian assault brought about the demise of the Franken near the port of Hel. And the damage sustained in the bombing ultimately sent the ship to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. This was a catastrophe – not just for the vessel, but also for the 48 sailors aboard who lost their lives when she sank.

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And those unfortunate crew members were desperately unlucky to perish on April 8. After all, mere weeks later on May 7 the Nazis finally capitulated, meaning the war in Europe was over. During the conflict, however, a large number of ships had sunk in the Baltic, including more than 30 U-boats, three German destroyers and one Russian destroyer. With that in mind, then, you may assume that the loss of a humble merchant ship would pale into insignificance in comparison.

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But the Franken has been brought back into the public eye today thanks to her cargo – and we’ll see why shortly. The ship now lies between around 160 feet and 240 feet beneath the surface of the Baltic Sea. The hull has split into two as well, with the bow separated from the rest of the vessel by around 2,600 feet. And the structure of the wreck is far from stable, either.

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Germany’s Baltic Sea Conservation Foundation agreed to fund an exploration of the Franken, however, and in April 2018 Polish dive vessels the LITERAL and the IMOR sailed to the waters above the site of the sunken wreck. The ships’ divers then spent some 13 hours familiarizing themselves with and assessing the remains of the vessel.

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And what the divers found was enough to cause grave concerns about the future status of the shipwreck. Olga Sarna, president of the marine conservation organization known as the MARE Foundation, certainly suggested as much when she spoke to The Sun in 2018. When asked about the risks of the Franken’s hull collapsing and the wreck breaking up, she said that this looked increasingly likely, too.

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“We know that the steel on the wreck is in worse shape every day. And obviously the ship is deteriorating, [meaning] the only question is when [she] will break,” Sarna explained. “The way [the wreck is] positioned on the bottom of the sea is between two dunes, and the current goes precisely between them and constantly washes over the ship.”

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“So, the moment that the steel cannot take the ship’s weight anymore,” Sarna continued, “it will break into this space between the dunes.” And there’s a compelling explanation as to why the Franken’s hull will almost certainly disintegrate.

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You see, the salt water in which the Franken lies is slowly but surely corroding the steel outer hull as well as the storage tanks inside the ship. As a result, then, the thickness of the metal of the tanks is degrading at a rate of around 0.39 inches every ten years. And while that doesn’t sound like very much at all, you should remember that this ship has been sitting on the Baltic seabed since 1945.

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After nearly 75 years on the ocean floor, then, the steel in the Franken’s tanks is now more than a quarter of an inch thinner than the day it was first put to sea. Bear in mind, too, that the total thickness of the metal when the vessel was brand new was a little less than half an inch. And in view of those facts, it’s easy to appreciate the inevitable conclusion of this gradual erosion.

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But why are scientists and environmentalists so concerned by the thought of the Franken’s hull and storage tanks collapsing? Well, the answer lies in the fuel oil that the ship was carrying when the Soviets bombed it to the bottom of the Baltic. And this is no trivial amount of oil, either; the ship’s tanks may still contain well in excess of 800,000 gallons of the black stuff.

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So, how was this incredibly dangerous cargo allowed to molder underwater? The answer, sadly, is money. After the Second World War drew to its conclusion, ownership of the Franken automatically went to the Polish government. And draining the ship of her cargo simply wasn’t a profitable enterprise.

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Speaking to broadcaster Deutsche Welle in April 2019, Benedykt Hac of Gdańsk’s Maritime Institute described the complacent attitude of officialdom in years gone by. “[The Franken] just sat there and wasn’t in anyone’s way,” he said by way of explanation as to why the ship wasn’t raised. And, indeed, clearing the wreck of dangerous materials still wouldn’t come cheap today. But as we’ll see, the question is: can the authorities actually afford not to undertake a clean-up operation?

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Well, Hac estimates that the cost of removing the oil – and perhaps dangerous ordnance – from the wreck would today be somewhere between $9 million and $23 million. Given those sums, then, would relieving the Franken of its toxic load be good value for money? If you listen to ecologists, it probably would be.

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So, what would happen if the Franken’s hazardous cargo were to end up in the ocean? Sarna, for one, is in no doubt about the dire consequences awaiting the area should that ever occur. Speaking to The Sun, she said, “We are talking about potentially the biggest ever ecological disaster in the whole Baltic Sea region. All of the wildlife in this area could potentially die if the spill happens.”

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And there’s more bad news, too. “The economic impact will be huge for the whole region,” Sarna continued. “If it’s light oil, that’s more dangerous, because it will go up to the surface and then the sea currents can move it towards the beaches.” In effect, then, Poland’s Baltic coast could be looking at a major pollution incident.

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“And since the currents in the Gdańsk area are usually towards the beaches, we are talking about 50 miles of beaches that can be hit,” Sarna continued. “[Such an event] will have an effect on the tourism and the industry of the region. We will have to close the whole area for at least a couple of years.”

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Indeed, the impact on the economy of a two-year beach closure could be a real hammer blow for the region, which has a thriving tourist industry. The bill in terms of economic loss would likely run into the high millions, in fact. But it’s not just about money; the possibly severe ramifications for the environment and wildlife should also be taken into account.

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And Sarna has described the potential for appalling habitat damage along Poland’s Baltic coast. “If the oil gets there, then… The local population includes protected colonies of seals and birds, so the ecological effect will be really dramatic,” she explained. Alarmingly, though, the Polish authorities have no duty to prevent such a calamity from occurring.

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“At this stage, the law does not oblige the government to take any action to prevent the oil spill,” Sarna pointed out. “They are obliged only to act at the moment the spill happens.” By then, however, it may be too late to prevent the worst effects of the leaked oil. And Sarna’s concerns are based on much more than mere speculation.

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You see, the possible consequences of the Franken’s oil leaking into Gdańsk Bay were made clear by the fate of another Second World War wreck, the Stuttgart. The sinking of this German ship was one of the conflict’s appalling but unavoidable tragedies, as the vessel was actually loaded with wounded men when it sank.

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Yet although the Stuttgart was carrying casualties while at anchor in Gdynia’s harbor and was marked with red crosses, American bombers attacking the port in October 1943 were unaware of the passenger ship’s status. And so the planes released their deadly loads on the vessel. Thanks to that assault, then, the Stuttgart caught fire, and most on board died in the flames.

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The smoldering remains of the Stuttgart were then dragged from Gdynia’s harbor out into the Baltic Sea. There, she was sunk along with the bodies of the men who had perished in the bombing raid. But this was a wreck that would come back to haunt future generations, as the horrendous consequences of the ship’s downing came to light through research conducted from 2009 to 2015.

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The findings of these studies revealed that the oil that had leaked from the Stuttgart had contaminated nearly half a million square feet of the seabed. This pollution had then killed every living thing – from creatures to algae – in that area. And the range of the contaminating oil has only continued to increase over the years.

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We should bear in mind, too, that the Stuttgart was just a passenger ship, meaning any oil it carried was only enough for its own needs. By contrast, the Franken was a tanker transport vessel that had a large amount of oil on board when she sank. All in all, then, the consequences of that cargo leaking into the sea would almost certainly be far more serious.

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So what will be done about the tremendous potential for damage posed by the deteriorating wreck of the Franken? Sarna choose her words diplomatically. “We’re not out to condemn anyone, but [we] are trying to mobilize people to save the ecosystem of Gdańsk Bay,” she told Deutsche Welle.

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But there could well be good news on the horizon. You see, in July 2018 Marek Gróbarczyk – the politician in charge of Poland’s maritime affairs – set up a task force to investigate potential solutions to the problem of the Franken. Environmentalists are also putting their hopes into financial help from the European Union to fund a full salvage operation. For now, though, the environmental time bomb continues to tick.

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In addition, those who are concerned about the potential environmental impact of the Franken’s cargo can consider the fate of another warship. The U.S.S. Kittiwake was an American submarine rescue vessel that was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1994 after 48 years in service. Then, as she was no longer of use, the craft was scuttled in the Caribbean in January 2011.

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After the Kittiwake’s launch in 1945, the ship saw service in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Then, following her decommissioning, the Cayman Islands government later bought the craft. Yet this wasn’t because local authorities had decided to start their own marine military operation; after all, as a British protectorate, the islands can rely on the Royal Navy for defense.

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Indeed, the Cayman Islands government seemingly didn’t buy the Kittiwake with warfare in mind at all. Instead, the ship was turned into an underwater feature that would attract sea life. And as a consequence, in January 2011 the vessel was deliberately sunk in a marine reserve just off Grand Cayman Island.

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These days, then, the Kittiwake is not only a haven for sea life, but it’s also a major attraction for recreational divers. And one man in particular has thoughts on the vessel’s reuse. Jon Glatstein served aboard the Kittiwake in the 1980s, and he actually traveled to Grand Cayman to watch his former ship disappear into the waters of the Caribbean.

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“This is the first time I’ve seen the ship in 25 years, and she’s in pretty rough shape,” Glatstein told HuffPost in 2011. “But she’s been serving divers all her life, and now she’s going to continue doing just that. That’s got to be a whole lot better than getting melted down for razor blades,” he added.

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Encouraging as the story of the Kittiwake may be, though, it remains to be seen whether the Franken’s oil can be similarly salvaged. And when speaking to the Maritime Herald in 2018, Hac emphasized the urgency of the problem, saying, “We have limited time for action. It can only be a year – maybe ten years – but probably not longer.” We can only hope, then, that the Franken’s deadly cargo is neutralized before it’s too late.

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