Dive the Graf Zeppelin, Hitler’s aircraft carrier
Here’s a story that will delight diving lovers and history buffs.
Shipyard and boat lunch
In December 1938, Hitler plus the Field Marshal Goring and Grand Admiral Raeder, as well as a procession of a hundred guests, visited the shipyard in Kiel where the first aircraft of the German army was about to be launched: the Graf Zeppelin. This ocean giant 272 meters long slides downhill to the pier while thousands of spectators are clapping and wishing it “bon voyage”.
The unfinished aircraft carrier
The following months, the Graf Zeppelin remains to the dock waiting for all superstructures and weapons to be installed. In September 1939, Germany went to war and the ship was still not operational. The Reich quickly decided to give priority to submarine constructions to consolidate in the sea the “Atlantic Wall” coastal fortification designed to prevent all enemy attacks from reaching their targets. The Graf Zeppelin is moved to Gdynia, Poland, to prevent any future British aerial bombardment. The aircraft carrier is used during the six years of war, as a military equipment warehouse without ever being completed.
Scuttled then bailed
In April 27, 1945, the Graf Zeppelin was scuttled by the Germans to prevent it from falling into the Russian army hands, as the Russians were getting close quickly. They discovered the boat half submerged and decided to put it back afloat. 4 months later, the ship was declared seaworthy and disappeared from radar. Many rumors then had circulated about this ship, some people thought it was in service in the Soviet Navy and others thought that it had sunk into the sea after hitting a mine.
Where has gone the Graf Zeppelin?
The riddle was only solved in 2006, after the discovery of a huge boat by an oil company close to the pier of Wladyslawowo, Poland. Polish Navy organized a diving expedition to identify the vessel and an underwater robot then confirmed to the world that it was the Graf Zeppelin. Today only a few specialized technical divers were lucky enough to explore the wreck that lays by 90 meters deep. In addition to the great depth, the visibility is very bad between 1 and 5 meters and the water is extremely cold from 4° to 8°C. This boat, thanks to its gigantism and tragic history still fascinates and will fascinate lovers of the ocean for many years.