A controversial dive: M/V Seattle

M/V Seattle

The German freighter M/V Seattle is considered to be one of Norway's best wrecks - but it is also a very controversial dive: Since 1996 four divers have perished on the wreck. One of them has not been recovered.

Posted on Jun 12, 2013

The 424 ft. freighter was built by Deutsche Werft AG in Hamburg 1928, and was on her way home from South America with tropical timer and 30.000 crates of oranges when war broke out in 1939.

Seattle was ordered to neutral harbor at Curaçao, then part of the Dutch Antilles, but was taken in arrest by the local authorities. All Germans ships were considered enemies.

A controversial dive: Since 1996, four divers have died while penetrating the wreck of M/V Seattle. Sadly, one diver is still trapped inside the wreck as rescue workers have been unable to recover the body.

Captain Lehmann was of course not happy with this, and finally managed to escape after weeks in arrest. He was later punished for not having escaped earlier...

Incredibly, the journey north through the Caribbean via Iceland to Tromsø in northern Norway was made without any navigational aids - they had all been confiscated by the Curaçao authorities.

Operation Weserübung

On the morning of April 9th 1940 the German invasion of Norway, Operation Weserübung, is in progress. Seattle is caught in the crossfire between Odderøya fort and the invasion fleet just outside Kristiansand on the Norwegian south coast.

The Norwegian defenders thinks Seattle is a German supply ship and part of the attacking fleet - while the Germans believe her to be English.

After being hit by several grenades, Seattle's timber cargo catches fire. She drifts in flames for a few days before sinking to the bottom on April 13, 1940. The wreck lies from 23-72 meters.

The stern of the huge freighter is relatively shallow (25-30 meters) and offers plenty of exploring opportunities. Maximum depth on the wreck is 72 meters.

Beautiful - but dangerous

Today, Seattle is recognized as one of the best wreck dives along the Norwegian coast. Sadly, the dive is also a controversial one: In 2010, two Danish divers perished while penetrating the wreck, presumably because some of the superstructure caved in over them.

There is a great risk that more parts of the superstructure of Seattle will collapse, and divers are strongly advised not to penetrate the wreck.

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The story also remind divers of the dangers of penetrating wrecks and the controversy surrounding diving on a wreck where several divers have perished.

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