Since the beginning of 2020, we had been searching for the wreck of the German steamboat Karlsruhe, the last ship to leave Pilawa (the port of Königsberg) before the Russian occupation of East Prussia.
Karlsruhe was an old small ship, but in those days, any ship capable of evacuating people to the west was important. She set off on her last voyage under extreme tight security with quite a heavy load as for this ship. The wreck rests several dozen kilometres north of Ustka at a depth of 88 metres. It is virtually intact. In her cargo holds we discovered military vehicles, porcelain and many chests with so far unknown contents.
This discovery may provide groundbreaking information on the disappearance of the legendary Amber Room, because it was in Königsberg where she was seen for the last time. From there, the Karlsruhe steamer sailed out on her final voyage with a large cargo.
Karlsruhe is the ship that, after Gustloff, Goya and Steuben, was the next ship to take part in Operation Hannibal, the largest maritime evacuation in history. Thanks to this operation, at the end of the war, the Germans transferred some 2 million refugees from East Prussia to the west.
We had been looking for his wreck for over a year now, when we realised that this could be the most interesting, undiscovered history from the bottom of the Baltic. The final identification took place during our next dive on 24 September 2020.
SS Karlsruhe was built at G. Seebeck Bremerhaven shipyard in 1905.Dimensions: Length - 66.3 m / Width - 10.1 m / Draught - 3.6 m / Load displacement - 897 tons
On that last voyage she set off from Pilawa (the port of Königsberg) on 11 April 1945. There were 150 soldiers of the "Herman Gornig" regiment, 25 railway workers and 888 refugees on board. Along with the crew there was a total of 1,083 people. The ship also took 360 tons of "returnable goods" in uneven crates; and military vehicles. A convoy consisting of four freighters and three minesweepers was formed right before the Hel Peninsula. This convoy left the roadstead of Hel on April 12 in the evening but on the morning of 13 April, it was detected by Soviet planes that attacked Karlsruhe and sank it. The ship went down within three minutes with its entire cargo. Only some 100 people were saved. The position of the attack was imprecise, and the location of the wreck's resting place was unknown- until recently.
Later this year, during an expedition with Maritime Office and the National Maritime Museum, we will have the opportunity to look into them once again.