Nazi warship found off Norway coast after 80 years

A Nazi cruiser torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Norway in 1940 has been found by chance at a depth of 490 metres (535 yards) during a subsea power cable inspection, the finders said on Thursday.

Nazi warship found off Norway coast after 80 years
An element of sunken German WWII warship cruiser "Karlsruhe" is seen in this undated photo obtained by Reuters September 7, 2020. Photo: Statnett/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

“Sometimes, we discover historical remains. But I've never found anything as exciting as this one,” Ole Petter Hobberstad, a chief engineer at Norway's power network operator Statnett, told AFP.

The German navy ship Karlsruhe, measuring 174 metres (571 feet), took part in the invasion of Norway during World War II.

After troops had disembarked on April 9, 1940 it was hit by Norwegian artillery then torpedoed by a British submarine. Badly damaged, it was finally ordered sunk by the German captain off the port of Kristiansand, at Norway's southern tip.

Three years ago, Statnett's sonars detected an unidentified wreck close to a high-tension cable between Norway and Denmark, but the company's engineers did not have time to investigate further, Statnett said.

But on June 30, after a storm in the area, a team was sent out to inspect the wreck with a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV).

About 15 metres from the cable, the ROV “showed a huge shipwreck that was torpedoed. But it was not until the cannons — and Nazi symbol — became visible on the screen that Ole Petter Hobberstad and the crew understood it was from the war,” Statnett said in a statement.

Norway's Maritime Museum later confirmed that there was no doubt: the wreck was indeed that of the Karlsruhe, which had never been found.

The ship is located 13 nautical miles off of Kristiansand. It lies upright on the seabed, a rare sight for warships with a high centre of gravity which normally list over, according to experts.

Built in Kiel in northern Germany, the cruiser was launched in 1927.


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How a Viking king inspired one of our best-known modern technologies

A Swede and American tell the story of how they hatched the idea for the moniker 'Bluetooth' over beers.

A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth
A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

At the end of the 1990s, Sven Mattisson, a Swedish engineer working at telecom group Ericsson, and Jim Kardach, an American employed by Intel, were among those developing the revolutionary technology.

In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a universal standard for the technology first developed by Ericsson in 1994.

But prior to that, they had struggled to pitch their wireless products. Intel had its Biz-RF wireless programme, Ericsson had MC-Link, while Nokia had its Low Power RF. Kardach, Mattisson and others presented their ideas at a seminar in Toronto in late 1997.

“Jim and I said that people did not appreciate what we presented,” Mattisson, now 65 and winding down his career at Ericsson, recalled in a recent interview with AFP.

The engineer, who had travelled all the way to Canada from Sweden for the one-hour pitch, decided to hang out with Kardach for the evening before flying home.

“We received a lukewarm reception of our confusing proposal, and it was at this time I realised we needed a codename for the project which everyone could use,” Kardach explained in a long account on his webpage.

‘Chauvinistic story’

To drown their sorrows, the two men headed for a local Toronto bar and ended up talking about history, one of Kardach’s passions. “We had some beers… and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about Vikings, so we talked at length about that,” said Mattisson, admitting that his recollection of that historic night is now somewhat foggy.

Kardach said all he knew about Vikings was that they ran “around with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy chiefs.”

Mattisson recommended Kardach read a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings, entitled “The Long Ships”.

Set in the 10th century – “a chauvinistic story” about a boy taken hostage by Vikings, says Mattisson – one name in the book caught Kardach’s attention: that of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

A Bluetooth adapter from 2004. Photo: Stefan Gustavsson/SvD/TT


An important historic figure in Scandinavia in the 10th century, the king of Denmark’s nickname is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales have it, to his liking for blueberries or even a simple translation error.

During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity.

But he is best known for having united Norway and Denmark in a union that lasted until 1814.

A king who unified Scandinavian rivals – the parallel delighted those seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the Bluetooth logo, which at first glance resembles a geometric squiggle, is in fact a superimposition of the runes for the letters “H” and “B”, the king’s initials.

Low-cost and with low power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology allowing computer devices to communicate with each other in short range without fixed cables.

The first consumer device equipped with the technology hit the market in 1999, and its name, which was initially meant to be temporary until something better was devised, became permanent.