An oil company working on a pipeline off the coast of Norway recently made a discovery maybe as valuable as the liquid gold: a sunken Nazi submarine.
Agence France-Press reports that the wreckage of a U-486 was found more than 800 feet below the sea near the town of Bergen in western Norway. According to AFP, the state-owned Statoil company uncovered the submarine while scouting a potential location for a new underwater oil pipeline.
Arild Maroey Hansen of the Bergen Maritime Museum told AFP that the U-486 met her demise in April 1945, when she was torpedoed by a British submarine and split in two. The entire 48-man crew perished, trapped in the ship's hull, rendering the downed vessel a World War II "war grave," as Hansen said to Norwegian radio station NRK.
Statoil provided this photo of a sunken German U-boat discovered off the coast of Norway.
The issue of what to do with the submarine remains unsettled and the discussion is complicated by environmental safety concerns and the previous discovery of another sunken vessel.
A little more than a mile away from the U-486 lies a U-864 submarine that has been at the center of debate for a decade, AFP notes. According to the BBC, the U-864 was found in 2003 with more than 65 tonnes of toxic cargo on board, raising contamination fears and causing the Norwegian government to declare a no-fishing zone around the wreckage. While some have called for the ship to be raised from the sea, others contend that the safest way to deal with the "ecological time bomb" is to seal it off in a submarine sarcophagus, the BBC notes.
Hansen told NRK that the potential presence of fuel oil and unexploded torpedoes on the recently found submarine could pose a similar problem, while also raising the possibility of other sunken vessels that have yet to be found in nearby waters.
According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Nazi Germany had established naval bases in various ports in occupied Norway since its invasion in 1940, including one in Bergen.