SCHIEDAM, The Netherlands — At a press conference the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Helga Pedersen, announced that the Norwegian government will propose to parliament that the U-864, a German submarine which sank in World War II, should be salvaged rather than left on the seabed and encased to ensure the safety of people and environment. If the Norwegian parliament approves this proposal then Mammoet will use an innovative salvage method to recover the submarine which contains toxic mercury and explosives.
The proposal will be discussed in the Norwegian parliament in the near future. The salvage operation of the submarine will be undertaken in the summer of 2010. In the period leading up to that Mammoet will prepare dedicated, innovative equipment for the operation.
An innovative solution
The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) selected Mammoet Salvage for the potential salvage of the German submarine because of the company’s innovative engineered solution. This together with the experience gained on the remote control salvage of the Runner 4 in the Baltic Sea last year, has resulted in a safe, fully remotely-controlled operation. With the remote operated techniques with a surface controlled gripper and ROV support, Mammoet will raise the submarine and take away the source of pollution forever without the need for anyone working under water. The new Transport Safeguard will prevent mercury leakage during the lifting and transport of the wreck. Mammoet Salvage has found the solution to overcome one of the specific challenges: lifting the wreck from the unstable seabed. On November 28th last, the NCA and Mammoet Salvage B.V. signed the contract concerning the possible salvage of the German U-864 submarine.
The U-864 time bomb
On 9 February 1945, the German submarine U-864 was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Venturer. The U-864 sank about two nautical miles west of the island Fedje, just north of Bergen, with the loss of all 73 on board. The submarine’s cargo included approximately 67 tons of metallic mercury which is highly toxic. As the U-864 was on a mission it was also carrying a full load of weapons. The vessel’s wreckage is considered to be a potential long-term threat to human health and the environment.
Mammoet Salvage B.V. and affiliated company Mammoet Norge AS are part of the Mammoet Holding B.V. (heavy transport and lifting specialists) which was awarded the contract of the salvage of the Kursk Russian nuclear submarine in 2001. Since then Mammoet Salvage has carried out a range of salvage projects throughout the world. The company emphasizes innovative engineered solutions to improve safety and reduce costs.