A History of the Rio De Janeiro

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We have posted a couple of blog posts recently about Deep Trekker’s role in helping locate a missing German Warship, the Rio de Janeiro that was found off the coast of Norway. A major historical site for Norway, Germany and Poland, the Rio de Janeiro has an extremely interesting history.

On April 6, 1940 the Rio de Janeiro left Stettin, Germany and headed toward Norway as the German military began their execution of Operation Weserubung which involved the invasion of Norway and Denmark in World War II. The former passenger vessel line was outfitted to transport troops for the German army during World War II and never ended up reaching its destination after leaving Stettin.

On this particular journey the ship was carrying approximately 400 passengers, over 70 horses, ammunitions and animal feed as it made its way to Norway. The original plan was for the ship to arrive at Bergen right after the German troops had captured the city but on April 8th the ship spotted what was thought to be a German submarine off the coast of Lillesand. The submarine turned out to be the Orzel, a Polish submarine operating under British command.

The Orzel ordered the Rio de Janeiro to stop and surrender or risk being bombed. The German ship stopped but did not surrender which is when the Orzel launched its first torpedo causing the warship to take in water and begin to sink. At this time crew members began jumping into the sea and a Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service plane circled above them. The Orzel fired a second torpedo and it hit an ammunition depot, causing an explosion on the ship.

Approximately 180 people survived thanks to help from Lillesand and Hovag locals, while another 200 died. The sinking of the Rio de Janeiro was an indication of the planned invasion of Norway since many of those saved were still in German uniform. A few of the rescued German officers told local police of their nation’s plans to invade Norway the next day but when the tip was reported to the Norwegian government it was met with scepticism. As a result, Norway was not prepared when the Germans invaded Bergen on the morning of April 9, 1940.

Sitting on the ocean floor off the coast of Lillesand, the Rio de Janeiro remains a historical site and holds significance to German, Norway and Poland. After 6 years of searching, on June 22, 2015 the ship was found with the help of Deep Trekker DTG2 ROV.

To read more about the discovery of the Rio de Janeiro check out the article here.

Sources used:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Rio_de_Janeiro_(1914)

http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/maritime-1.html

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