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Wreck-Examinations on Military Grounds at Horten

from Magazine „Dykking“ (Diving) Issue 2/2002

Text: Erling Skjold; Pictures: Kai Garseg

Østøya off Horten holds  remains of several wrecks. Here the wrecks of the submarine U-1273, the picket V-6733, the freightboat MS Neptun and several other partly totally broken up are laying on the beach. Not much has been left of the vessels, but with respect to the information by navy divers there are to be bigger parts as remains of two torpedoboats. The employees of Dykking obtained the possibility to dive for the wreck-remains with the defence to possibly find out which ships these have once been. 

The rumours about the most exiting remains said, that it should have been two German S-boats, which have teared of from their mooring during the winter 1945/46 an been driftet ashore on Østøya . The vessels, which were Norwegian war loot became so very damaged that they were to be broken up on the beach. At the same time there were rumours that as a minimum a steam-boiler had been found, something which meant that it could not be German S-boats. Something that would have been historically interesting was that it also could have been remains of Norwegian steamdriven torpedoboats of the Union-time. hSome of which had survived the war but the precise fate of several of them is still unknown. In co-operation with the Navy Museum and the diving officer at Horten it was agreed that this had to be examinated. Independent thereof it would be important to document what had been left of these at least two vessels having served in the Norwegian navy.

We met at the Navy Museum and were picked up by Lars Dybing, diving officer at the Seadefence District. All were in time besides of the author, which inside the Navy Museum where much interesting is exposed forgot about the time.

A short boattrip brought us to Østøya, which is military area with as well diving as fishing prohibition. A quick view on the wreck-remains on the beach made clear that it were propeller-shafts and engine-parts of two small fastgoing vessels with two propellers, exactly as German S-boats had. (Remark of the translator: German S-boats had three propellers).

The bridge armouring is examined and suites well with the drawings of the German S 38 and S 100-classes 

After the flippers had been fastened with rust in the springs it went out into the water, in order to see what was hiding under the surface of the sea. On the evenly dropping down bottom the remains of hulls were rapidly found, but no bigger parts, which mad a clear identification possible. What could, however, be detected very fastly were crabb-traps. The fishing ban in this area was partly being ignored by "smart" people with the bladders under water, so that the gear would not be recognised.  Also fishing lines were laid out in the the same way. It is impressive what ideas people get when cheap fish is to obtain in the shops but it is thrilling to go out in the darkness of night to lay out fishing lines with the chance of being caught. 

Clear traces on the beach. The author and the military man Lars Dybing examin propeller-shafts and engine-parts

With a guide who knows his way around it took not much time before bigger wrackage appeared in the field of vision. A known construction appeared on the ground and it became difficult to keep curiosity under control until Kai had made his pictures. This could only be the bridge-armouring of a German S-boat. Super, this was to be a reliable find! Only a few meters deeper lay some bigger aluminum-constructions (wrongly considered as steam-boilers), and these presented themselves as fitting especially good into the picture as fuel-tanks of a German S-boat. Pictures were taken and we did not find any bigger parts in the area, therefore, the trip went up again to the rubber boat. Here immedeately discussions began about what this could have been, but now it was clear in any case that it had to be German S-boats and not Norwegian torpedoboats.  An important discovery; but which S-boats had ended their days on Østøya? The subgoal for the Navy Museum had been reached: The wrecks are from German S-boats either S38 or S100-class, but a certain identification, which boats exactly are concerned, is impossible.

A little distant from the bridge-armouring lays what is thought to be the fuel-tank of the vessel
Remains of another vessel a few stone's throws west of the S-boat-remains. The entire bottom of the vessel lies here under water. Obviously this are remains of the German freightboat MS „Neptun“ or of the German picket „Widder“