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Divers Aim To Raise The Graf Spree
IC Wales ^ | 2-4-2004

Posted on 02/04/2004 10:49:43 AM PST by blam

Divers aim to raise the Graf Spee

Feb 4 2004

Divers will begin this week raising pieces of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, scuttled off Uruguay in the early days of the Second World War to avoid being sunk by a British armada.

The Battle of the River plate that led to pride of the German fleet's humiliating end rapidly become nautical folklore ... and a film.

Hector Bado, a spokesman for the salvage team, said work on the Graf Spee was scheduled to begin tomorrow but high winds and choppy waters on the broad waterway separating Uruguay from Argentina could delay the project until Friday.

A symbol of Nazi naval might, the ship prowled the South Atlantic chasing and sinking as many as nine allied merchant ships before it was crippled by British warships in a December 1939 naval engagement.

Scuttled by its captain fearing a battle with a larger naval force, the Graf Spee has remained in waters less than 25 feet deep only miles outside the port of Montevideo.

Mr Bado said the recovery team will first attempt to remove a 27 ton communications tower equipped with an early radar and what was then sophisticated sighting equipment for its 11 guns.

"The radar was one of the first to be used in that era," said Mr Bado, whose group has private funding and Uruguayan government backing for the operation which could take years.

The recovery operation is a private effort that could take three years or more and would cost millions of pounds.

The team is aiming to salvage as much of the warship as possible to put on display in Uruguay.

"It was a masterpiece in its time," said Mensun Bound, a marine archaeologist from Oxford University.

"And it doesn't have a dark history. Its captain was a man of great dignity and honour. It was a battle in which both sides came out with their honour intact."

Feared by many navies at the outset of the war, the Graf Spee - a pocket battleship which carried less powerful guns and was smaller than a conventional battleship - fought one of the early important naval battles of the war when it was spotted by British forces off the South American coast.

The Battle of the River Plate began on December 13, 1939, near the mouth of the river as the German warship was pursued by a group consisting of the British light cruisers Exeter and Achilles, and the Ajax of New Zealand, under the command of Commodore Henry Harwood.

Uruguayans by the thousands followed the battle from clifftops along the coast and from high rooftops during a booming gun battle offshore.

The Graf Spee was crippled in the fight after receiving several direct hits and Captain Hans Langsdorff decided to seek refuge in Montevideo harbour but was unable to make the necessary repairs within the 72-hour period afforded in a neutral harbour by international convention.

In a decision that avoided the Graf Spee's capture, the German warship subsequently limped out of the harbour and was sunk by Capt Langsdorff on December 17, 1939.

The crew was taken by ship to Buenos Aires and the captain committed suicide days later.


TOPICS: Germany; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: divers; germany; graf; grafspee; militaryhistory; raise; shipwreck; spree; uruguay; wwii

1 posted on 02/04/2004 10:49:44 AM PST by blam
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To: blam; Caipirabob

Huija!

I can pretty much guarantee that this was HUGE stuff for the Montevideans in tiny Uruguay.

2 posted on 02/04/2004 10:52:59 AM PST by martin_fierro (Chat is my milieu)
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To: blam; snippy_about_it

Thanks for the article Blam.

3 posted on 02/04/2004 10:53:11 AM PST by SAMWolf (Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?)
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To: blam
The Graf SPREE???


(just teasing)
4 posted on 02/04/2004 10:53:37 AM PST by EggsAckley (..................**AMEND** the Fourteenth Amendment......(There, is THAT better?).................)
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To: blam
More like a heavy cruiser than a battleship. There was a lot of fast and loose playing around with terms in the 1930s.
5 posted on 02/04/2004 10:55:04 AM PST by KellyAdmirer
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To: blam
Captain Hans Langsdorff decided to seek refuge in Montevideo harbour but was unable to make the necessary repairs within the 72-hour period afforded in a neutral harbour by international convention.

This part's interesting.

6 posted on 02/04/2004 10:57:00 AM PST by ibbryn (this tag intentionally left blank)
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To: blam
It'll be interesting to see what they can recover. I wonder what corrosion and sea life has done to her.
7 posted on 02/04/2004 10:57:17 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Spirit/Opportunity~0.002acres of sovereign US territory~All Your Mars Are Belong To USA)
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To: ibbryn
There is a good movie about this story.

They were given no choice. Either they violate the law and end up arrested and scuttled, or thy return to open sea for a guaranteed sinking.
8 posted on 02/04/2004 10:58:49 AM PST by sharktrager (The last rebel without a cause in a world full of causes without a rebel.)
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To: EggsAckley
I was hoping this was going to be about wild behavior by a cute tennis player.
9 posted on 02/04/2004 11:00:27 AM PST by eno_ (Freedom Lite - it's almost worth defending)
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To: eno_
DING DING DING!!**

You win the prize. I was searching for that............

~</;o)
10 posted on 02/04/2004 11:02:44 AM PST by EggsAckley (..................**AMEND** the Fourteenth Amendment......(There, is THAT better?).................)
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To: KellyAdmirer
More like a heavy cruiser than a battleship.

Displacement, armor, gun caliber, power plant -- she fit into may classes depending on which category you focus on. The term "Pocket Battleship" was hung on her by the British who wanted to emphasize the point that she was built in violation of the tonnage limits placed on the Germans by the Treaty of Versailles. But she wasn't a true Battleship by any stretch...

11 posted on 02/04/2004 11:04:03 AM PST by Tallguy (Does anybody really think that Saddam's captor really said "Pres. Bush sends his regards"?)
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To: blam
Sinking of the Graf Spee

Oh there was a jolly ship built in Nazi Germany,
And the name of that ship was the Admiral Graf Spee;
And she looted merchantmen of ev'ery nationality
As she sailed upon the rolling, bowling,
As she sailed upon the rolling sea.

She met three cruisers of the British army,
And to stop them she knew would put Berlin on the spree.
Their commander laughed aloud: 'Now merry game there'll be,
For I'll sink them 'neath the rolling, bowling,
For I'll sink them 'neath the rolling sea.'

She fired her mighty guns, did the Admiral Graf Spee;
Her captain laughed aloud, and hugged himself with glee,
But he swore a hasty oath as the little cruisers three
Came dashing over the rolling, bowling,
Came dashing over the rolling sea.

'To the helm, quick,' he cries, 'and turn face right merrily,
Or our Fuhrer's small moustache we never more may live to see.'
With his tail between his legs, in his ear a lively flea,
He went scurrying through the rolling, bowling,
He went scurrying through the rolling sea.

Yes, the 'bear' he went to cover where his wounds
the world could see,
For the British bulldog bite had hurted painfully,
And the foeman speeding forward knew the fight that he had seen
Would end beneath the rolling, bowling,
Would end beneath the rolling sea.

Yes, and this was the end of the Admiral Graf Spee,
And perhaps it was for this that a pocket ship was she,
For in Davy Jones's pocket, scuttled most ingloriously,
She rusts beneath the rolling, bowling,
She rusts beneath the rolling sea.

The Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled in Montevideo harbor in 1939
to prevent its capture by by Ajax, Achilles and Exeter. Big morale
boost to the Allied forces.RG


Song based on Golden Vanity (VANTYGL*)
from a newspaper in County Armagh
Printed in Roy Palmer, Oxford Book of Sea Songs
SOF
12 posted on 02/04/2004 11:04:15 AM PST by coydog (I love my country, I loathe its government. I AM Canadian.)
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To: EggsAckley

BUMP.

13 posted on 02/04/2004 11:04:44 AM PST by Constitution Day
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To: blam
Just a little trivia, but "Graf" is German for Count or Earl. So the battleship "Admiral Graf Spree" was named for an Admiral who was also Germanic Royalty...a bit quirky considering that Hitler's rise to power depended upon the German Kaiser (Ceasar / King) being out of the picture.
14 posted on 02/04/2004 11:04:48 AM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Constitution Day
heheheh.
15 posted on 02/04/2004 11:09:20 AM PST by EggsAckley (..................**AMEND** the Fourteenth Amendment......(There, is THAT better?).................)
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To: Southack
Well, Nazism eventually had to co-opt and incorporate the old royalist elites, largely through their dire fear of Communism.

Always was a lot of tension in the regime between the "old guard" and the upstart "corporals" like Hitler who had the power.
16 posted on 02/04/2004 11:09:26 AM PST by John H K
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To: sharktrager
They were given no choice. Either they violate the law and end up arrested and scuttled, or thy return to open sea for a guaranteed sinking.

Read a great book where it's described how this actually happened.
The british actually rose fake masts on a ship to make it's silhouette look lake a great warship taht was really a thousand miles away.

17 posted on 02/04/2004 11:10:54 AM PST by #1CTYankee
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To: ibbryn
Actually it's even more interesting than that. Under the so-called "Cruiser Rules" the German ship couldn't leave a neutral port within a certain time period (I think it was 24-hours) of the departure of a ship from a hostile nation. The Brits had several merchant ships in Montevideo harbor and they were letting them leave one-at-a-time in order to prevent the Graf Spee's early departure. By this gambit the British consulate was attempting to 'hold' the Graf Spee in the harbor until more Naval Forces arrived.

The deception worked: Capt. Langsdorff was convinced that he was going to run into a British Battle Fleet instead of a few damaged light cruisers, and so he slipped anchor with a skeleton crew and scuttled the ship, much to the relief of the British sailors.

The Graf Spee -- damaged as she was -- constituted a superior force to the allied cruiser force. She had them outranged & outgunned bigtime.

18 posted on 02/04/2004 11:12:23 AM PST by Tallguy (Does anybody really think that Saddam's captor really said "Pres. Bush sends his regards"?)
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To: Professional Engineer
It'll be interesting to see what they can recover. I wonder what corrosion and sea life has done to her.

I understood that it was heavily 'mined' for it's steel to supplant the scarce natural resources in the area.

19 posted on 02/04/2004 11:12:32 AM PST by TC Rider (The United States Constitution 1791. All Rights Reserved.)
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To: Southack
I believe the Graf Spee was completed in the '20's -- before Hitler came to power. He could have changed the name as he had done with the "Deutschland" (which was the Graf Spee's sister ship).
20 posted on 02/04/2004 11:14:27 AM PST by Tallguy (Does anybody really think that Saddam's captor really said "Pres. Bush sends his regards"?)
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To: Tallguy
she was built in violation of the tonnage limits placed on the Germans by the Treaty of Versailles. But she wasn't a true Battleship by any stretch...

Once more another reference surfaces that amazes me at the similarities between the Gulf war II and WWII. (Those weren't ICBMs by any stretch, but they were built in violation of resolution 1441....)

Pretty cool. Especially since we have leadership who obviously studied some history and made some obvious conclusions.

21 posted on 02/04/2004 11:17:59 AM PST by Cobra Scott
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To: blam; All
A search for "Battle of the Falkland Islands ( WWI ) and the Battle of Coronel" should yield a wealth of info regarding Admiral Graf Spee, armored cruisers versus battlecruiser, etc.
22 posted on 02/04/2004 11:28:32 AM PST by backhoe (--30--)
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To: Tallguy
Siege of the Graf Spee
23 posted on 02/04/2004 11:28:38 AM PST by Tallguy (Does anybody really think that Saddam's captor really said "Pres. Bush sends his regards"?)
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To: blam
Brings back memories of the urban legend that the Ballester-Molina, the .45 ACP manufactured by HAFDASA and was rumored to have been made from salvaged Graf Spee armor.


24 posted on 02/04/2004 11:32:57 AM PST by Orangedog (An optimist is someone who tells you to 'cheer up' when things are going his way)
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To: Tallguy
I believe the Graf Spee was completed in the '20's -- before Hitler came to power.

You must be thinking of a different ship.

Graf Spee

Laid down - Oct 1, 1932 As Panzerschiff C or Ersatz Braunschweig
Commissioned January 1, 1936 as Panzerschiffe Admiral Graf Spee

More key dates here:
http://www.feldgrau.com/grafspee.html

25 posted on 02/04/2004 12:02:23 PM PST by PAR35
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To: PAR35
No, you're right. She entered service in 1936.
26 posted on 02/04/2004 12:12:46 PM PST by Tallguy (Does anybody really think that Saddam's captor really said "Pres. Bush sends his regards"?)
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To: blam
I was under the impression that much of the Graf Spee has already been salvaged for scrap metal.
27 posted on 02/04/2004 12:20:34 PM PST by curmudgeonII
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To: Cobra Scott
The British should have worked with the League of Nations and their European allies to disarm Germany instead of unilaterally attacking the Graf Spee. I mean, once Germany had conquered every country they wanted, weren't the effectively "contained"?
28 posted on 02/04/2004 12:25:51 PM PST by colorado tanker ("There are but two parties now, Traitors and Patriots")
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To: Southack
Von Spee was a very famous German Admiral in the First World War. His squadron (including the cruisers Scharnhort and Gneisnau) raised havoc in the Southern Atlantic and sank Adm. Christopher Craddock's squadron off the coast of Argentina (I think).

Von Spee in turn was sunk with all of his ships by HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible (I think) Commanded by Admiral Sir Dovton Sturdee.

Regards,

29 posted on 02/04/2004 12:33:28 PM PST by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: Tallguy
My recollection is that the original damage that caused the Graf Spree to go into Montevideo ws caused by a shell from a destroyer that happened to take out the ship's electrical system. The delay in restoring power permitted some destroyers to get inside the minimum depression angle of their big guns. At that point Captain Langsdorff decided to enter the neutral port.

This power failure led the U.S. Navy to analyze the power distribution systems on our own ships. This task was assigned to Hymen Rickover and the A-B-C power distribution system was adopted as the U.S. Standard. This is one of the significant Rickover achievements that led to his being assigned the task of developing our first nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilis.

Another reason for Rickover's assignment to the Nautilis was the Navy high command recognized that all nuclear development was under the authority of the Atomic Energy Commission ("AEC"). As such many in the Navy command believed that Rickover would be stymied by the civilians on the AEC. He overcame this obstacle by making the point that there was no Navy liason in the AEC.

He got that position created and applied for the job. He wrote the requisitions for materials for the Nautilis with his Navy hat and approved them with his civilian hat. By the time the Navy realized what happened, the Nautilis was almost ready for sea trials.

Then Rickover was passed over for promotion and told that he had to leave. He persuaded several members of Congress that he had the world's first nuclear submarine ready for sea trials and that the Navy wanted him out. The Congress backed him and made it clear to the Navy that their budget would have a tough time, if Rickover wasn't promoted. We all know many of the milestones of the Nautilis and the birth of the submarine fleet as a dominant part of our strategic defense.
30 posted on 02/04/2004 1:11:08 PM PST by leprechaun9 (Beware of little expenses because a small leak will sink a great ship!)
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To: SAMWolf
Thanks for the ping.
31 posted on 02/04/2004 1:27:34 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: leprechaun9
Re: ...caused by a shell from a destroyer...

Sorry, no destroyers present. The Garf Spree battled HMS Ajax, HMS Achilles and HMS Exeter, all cruisers.

32 posted on 02/04/2004 1:32:44 PM PST by sonofatpatcher2 (Love & a .45-- What more could you want, campers? };^)
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To: leprechaun9
The cruisers did not have destroyer escorts. I have seen this battle plotted several times and there was only the three cruisers and the Graf Spee.

The following from: http://www.ocean98.org/spee.htm

"In the heavy engagement with the 3 allied cruisers, the Graf Spee received 20 hits, and 36 crew members were killed, 60 wounded. Langsdorff decided to disengage from the battle and head to the neutral port of Montevideo in Uruguay, to seek shelter and to repair some of the serious battle damage inflicted.

"The sailors of the merchant vessels, who were taken aboard before their ships were sunk, were set free. Although the ship was still able to fight, the holes caused by the hits would make it questionable how the ship would encounter heavy weather at sea. An additional problem was that one of the hits had destroyed the kitchen and bakery of the ship which made it almost impossible to feed its crew. These damages could not repaired by the crew while at sea."
33 posted on 02/04/2004 2:01:06 PM PST by sonofatpatcher2 (Love & a .45-- What more could you want, campers? };^)
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To: Tallguy
Actually it's even more interesting than that. Under the so-called "Cruiser Rules" the German ship couldn't leave a neutral port within a certain time period (I think it was 24-hours) of the departure of a ship from a hostile nation.

Warships in neutral ports are allowed to make repairs in order to make themselves seaworthy, they are not permitted to do anything that makes them more combatworthy. Warships that are in neutral ports for more than 24 hours can be interned for the duration. The Uruguay authorities did an inspection and gave a 72 hour extension on top of the 18 hours the ship had already been in port.

The Brits had several merchant ships in Montevideo harbor and they were letting them leave one-at-a-time in order to prevent the Graf Spee's early departure. By this gambit the British consulate was attempting to 'hold' the Graf Spee in the harbor until more Naval Forces arrived.

After realizing the real status quo the British invoked the 24 hour pursuit rule by sailing a merchant ship, Graf Spee had to then wait 24 hours before being allowed to start a (possible) pursuit. Later a second merchant ship was sailed thereby ensuring the Graf Spee could only legally leave port in daylight hours before the granted time extension expired. That was effing brilliant of the British, and that sort of thinking is why we should be happy they are close allies in 2004.
34 posted on 02/04/2004 2:30:07 PM PST by Paladin2b
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To: Piquaboy
HMNZS Achilles.
35 posted on 02/04/2004 2:37:21 PM PST by shaggy eel
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To: Jimmy Valentine
Von Spee was a very famous German Admiral in the First World War. His squadron (including the cruisers Scharnhort and Gneisnau) raised havoc in the Southern Atlantic and sank Adm. Christopher Craddock's squadron off the coast of Argentina (I think)

he raised havoc in the Pacific and sank Craddock's squadron off the coast of Chile.

The Graf's command was originally based in Tsingtao, China, and was the German East Asia Squadron.

36 posted on 02/04/2004 2:42:29 PM PST by Poohbah ("Would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons?" -- Maj. Vic Deakins, USAF)
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To: Poohbah
Damn! Thanks for the clarification. I knew I was off on that (at least I got it right with South America!). If I remember von Spee ran into Sturdee by accident by sailing up to the Falklands where Sturdee's ships were refueling.

Regards,

37 posted on 02/05/2004 3:34:33 AM PST by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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Followup article (for reference): http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1576482/posts


38 posted on 02/12/2006 4:46:59 AM PST by solitas (So what if I support an OS that has fewer flaws than yours? 'Mystic' dual 500 G4's, OSX.4.2)
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To: Tallguy
The deception worked: Capt. Langsdorff was convinced that he was going to run into a British Battle Fleet instead of a few damaged light cruisers, and so he slipped anchor with a skeleton crew and scuttled the ship

Was this the reason he committed suicide? He found out he'd been fooled?

39 posted on 02/12/2006 4:57:23 AM PST by Balding_Eagle (God has blessed Republicans with political enemies who have dementia.)
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To: Balding_Eagle
Was this the reason he committed suicide? He found out he'd been fooled?

Langsdorf & his crew were interned after the scuttling of the Graf Spee. It was very shortly thereafter that the Captain committed suicide. I would imagine that he stated his reasons in a note, but I just don't recall the specifics...

40 posted on 02/13/2006 3:08:54 PM PST by Tallguy (When it's a bet between reality and delusion, bet on reality -- Mark Steyn)
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