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MPT to dive deep to salvage World War-II era shipwrecks

Panaji: For over seven decades, four World War II Axis ships have remained submerged in the cold depths of Mormugao harbour, undisturbed until now. Goa's dramatic tryst with the second World War will be revisited in the coming four months following a proposal to salvage the shipwrecks that were blown up by a group of British commandos in March 1943.

The four Axis ships—Ehrenfels, Drachenfels, Braunfels (all German) and the Italian ship Anfora—sank at Vasco bay inner anchorage on that fateful night taking some of its crew down with them, though some German and Italian crew members did manage to swim ashore, historical accounts show.

Mormugao Port Trust decided to salvage these shipwrecks, which today are "mere metal plates" in order to make way for the port's expansion plans.

The decision to salvage the World War II era shipwrecks was also influenced by complaints from local fishermen that the wrecks were damaging fishing vessels and fishing nets.

The salvage operation is part of the Mormugao Port Trust's expansion plan, which envisages a new fishing jetty and a liquid cargo jetty at Khariwada.

"This particular shipwreck close to the fishing jetty near berth 10 will soon be removed and a tender to remove the shipwrecks at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore has been approved," MPT chairman I Jeyakumar told REPORTERS.

Camouflaged as innocuous merchant vessels, the four ships were transmitting critical information about British ships through coded radio transmitters to Axis listening posts during World War II. The information used to be relayed to German U-boats, who then attacked British ships that sailed out of Mumbai out into the Indian Ocean.

These shipwrecks will now be salvaged completely and shifted to a location identified behind berth no 11. "A sonographic and underwater magnetometer survey has already been done," Jeyakumar said.

The magnetometer survey will be repeated later to ensure that no wreck pieces are present either on the seabed or embedded in the seabed, an official at MPT explained.

The other shipwrecks that MPT wants scrapped are MV Mother Pearl and MV Mariner IV, which sank relatively recently.

"Mormugao Port Trust, Goa, is in the process of removing all the wrecks present within the port limits. Once the contract is finalised and awarded, the work is expected to be completed in three months," a source at MPT said.

Prior to the expansion activity, MPT will go in for an environmental clearance and will need to hold a public hearing. MPT has also applied for permission to use underwater explosives as part of the construction process.


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Source: MPT to dive deep to salvage World War-II era shipwrecks

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