Northern Fleet divers exploring sunken American naval vessel

Last year a Sherman tank in relative good condition was raised from the Barents Sea.

Divers from the Northern Fleet are salvaging weapons and equipment from the American ship “Thomas Donaldson”, which sank after a German submarine attack outside Murmansk in 1945.


Divers from the Northern Fleet’s department for search and rescue in 2014 started an operation to bring weapons and equipment from the American vessel to the surface. Last year a Sherman tank was raised. It has been restored and is now displayed at a museum in Safonovo outside Severomorsk, TV-21 reports.

The Liberty-class ship “Thomas Donaldson” was part of an allied convoy and carried more than 600 tons of cargo as part of the Lend-Lease program. On March 20 1945, the ship was hit by a German torpedo and sank by Kildin Island outside the Kola Inlet.

This summer the divers have found a 90-milimeter anti-aircraft gun, which was part of the vessel’s own armament. The gun is in good condition after having laid at a depth of 60 meters for 70 years.

The Nortern Fleet thinks it is important to take care of this equipment from the Second World War, but the operation outside Kildin also gives the divers important training on a live object in open waters, officers say to TV-21.

“The object is very difficult, you can imagine – the cargo vessel was flooded, torpedoed, there was an explosion, it broke into three pieces and sank. […] Before removing any equipment, you have to prepare, calculate. The depths are for the diving personnel – who are not deep-sea divers – maximum, 60 meters,” Commander of the Northern Fleet’s department for search and rescue Vladimir Gorban says.

The divers hope to be able to raise at least one more Sherman tank before they finish this for the season.The operation on “Thomas Donaldson” will probably continue next summer.

Watch video from the operation on TV-21.