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Tank Recovery ( from Sea )


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I have recently heard wind of at least 3 Sherman tanks that were sunk along with the wreckage of a ship somewhere off the coast of the UK. These are not at Slapton just to avoid confusion. They appear ( from the images i have seen ) in good condition and potentially salvagable!

My question is who would i need to contact regarding the recovery of said tanks? Im not sure as to whether the site is classified as a war grave as im still digging for information at the minute but if it is not is there any reason as to why this would not be possible? Considering they are in Salt water the task will be gigantic to make sure they do not corrode away as soon as they are lifted out of the water.

Your views are welcomed!

Many thanks

Alex

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They look to have been dumped looking at the immediate area around the tanks. If they have munitions in the vicinity they might be impossible to salvage.

 

The area seems to be a dumping ground

 

U 155

 

 

 

U 861

 

 

 

H

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16 miles off malin head, so they might be in international waters and as such i think the wreck may not have been claimed by anyone so it could be feasible, i'm sure the local bsac club would assist if you came up with a reasonable suggestion as to what to do with the tank once you recovered it, garden ornament probably won't cut it but parts for a restoration or monument would. the people to speak to are the nearest bsac club as obviously they will the ones who dive it most and are your best bet to achieving something. in my honest opinion i say go for it, don't listen to any nay sayers unless they've experience of recovering tanks from the empire heritage (the wreck) but there probably aren't many of those so it's upto you. i'm doing something similar at the moment and i'll let you know how i get on.

these things are better on the surface than 200ft under the sea.

 

good luck

 

rick

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andy i don't think it was a dumping ground, more like a good hunting ground for the u-boats who knew the convoys from the states would be passing round the top of ireland to get to the west coast ports, the ship was sunk by u-482. in a cruel twist it was already carrying survivors from another earlier torpedoed ship when it got the "good news" and then the ship that picked them up also got sunk, so some of those poor buggars got sunk 3 times on one atlantic crossing :-(.

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So in the theory that they 'could' be recovered where on earth would one start with a restoration project like that? The salt water will have gotten very deep into the steel presumably! Is there a way to treat this? For example putting them in a slightly acidic bath? Or similar? Would make quite an interesting project!

Cheers

Alex

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So in the theory that they 'could' be recovered where on earth would one start with a restoration project like that? The salt water will have gotten very deep into the steel presumably! Is there a way to treat this? For example putting them in a slightly acidic bath? Or similar? Would make quite an interesting project!

Cheers

Alex

 

Hi Alex,

 

Before you embark on an ambitious exercise, you should go to the museum just outside Port en Bessin in Normandy. There are tanks and other artifacts recovered from the sea around the D-Day beaches. By this time the corrosion is set in deep and I doubt whether you could do anything with them, save for treating them with a stabiliser such as Fertan and putting thm on static display. The museum exhibits have been treated, the product name was displayed, but I forget it now. Strangely, anything rubber is near perfect, all the lettering on bogie wheels just like new.

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You might also like to look at Holland 1 at the Submarine Museum in Gosport, and to a lesser extent the SS Great Britain. Corrosion issues are pretty well understood these days, as is the treatment, but it isn't cheap!

 

Andy

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I cant say for sure about this, But. I read an article once about the chap who recovered the Tank stood at Slapton Sands as a war memorial.

I recall, he had to contact the American embassy (I would think the Military Attache) & get permission to do this.

Even though, it was in British waters. The reason being, all American Warlike Material/stores remain the Property of the US Government. Even though it was lend/lease assistance that they were sent to assist. (Something to do with a Contract for Aid with Articles of War)

 

It was a legal thing but easily got around. I Believe he paid the US Government £1 for the Rights of ownership to be transfered to him!

Basically a Paperwork Exercise, BUT. You HAVE to do things correctly here in the UK! (If your a Law abiding Citizen! :D)

otherwise, you could fall foul of some obscure regulation or some such legal problem.

 

Bit of jumping through hoops really, But not impossible I would have thought? :cheesy:

 

Good Luck with your Quest, & please do kep us ALL informed here! :)

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At the moment at least it is but a dream! But if it did happen it would be pretty amazing!

As stated the corrosion at this point will be so deep into the steel it will be almost impossible to use them but if you could treat them then maybe you can get around it! Im however a bit dubious on this one!

thanks for the support!

Alex

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The book to which Ferretfixer refers is the 'The Forgotten Dead' by Ken Small. A fascinating book that tells the story of Operation Tiger, the D-Day rehearsals that took place on Slapton Sands, and the determination of one man to recover a DD Sherman tank that sank during Op Tiger and set it up as a memorial to those that died during the training.

 

For many years Ken could be found at the tank selling copies of his book and talking to visitors. Sadly Ken died a few years ago but his book is still available. I was really pleased to find a signed copy of his book in a secondhand book shop in Haworth a few years ago.

 

H1HU

ken small.jpg

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I cant say for sure about this, But. I read an article once about the chap who recovered the Tank stood at Slapton Sands as a war memorial......

 

 

There was, I am sure, an in-depth article about this in either "After the Battle" or "Wheels and Tracks" a good few years ago, which I remember reading myself.

 

Is there anyone here who perghaps has a complete run of these magazines and could see if they can find out which issue of which mag it was, since I would like to read it again?

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I dare say the recovery costs (if you could get permission to salvage) would be prohibitively expensive and it would probably be cheaper to simply purchase a Sherman.

 

If you have the equipment and the time it might be worth it but its having the spare equipment and time when you could be earning more elsewhere.

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Empire Heritage was a tanker with deck cargo of the shermans and halftracks. It is very deep and the divers are using tri-mix. If you bought the wreck off the prospective government not a problem. Paying for a salvage boat and divers? Do you have deep pockets. When the U-534 was raised, it cost approx £3 million in 1993. Yes slightly larger than a sherman, but the empire heritage wreck site in deep ocean. And you couldn't just attach floatation bags and ,let it rise to the surface. Because of the depth a controlled ascent with divers, crane and lifting barge.

 

There is an easier wreck off the the Texas coast with half a dozen Valentines.

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Can't see what all the fuss is about, I wouldn't want one.....:coffee:
Me neither, I like them where they are (especially with such good footage available), but I do want to encourage Rick cs to go after them . . . .
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Me neither, I like them where they are (especially with such good footage available), but I do want to encourage Rick cs to go after them . . . .

 

It doesn't take much I indirectly pointed him in the direction of a Churchill turret on ebay he then went out and bought the whole vehicle plus a few others to make the numbers up.

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lol :-D you know me so well, i'm at this moment down in bournemouth for tankfest and i'm looking at getting at the valentines in studland bay, rang the guy who's dived it today but got his answer phone so i'll try again tomorrow. nothing ventured, nothing gained.

 

 

rick

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  • 4 months later...

Hi,

 

I really like this idea and looking at the wreck its mind blowing the pictures were taken May this year 2011 with visability at 22 metres all I can say is wow and go for it.

 

The tanks recovered in France were not treated straight away and spent many months without treatment in the open I remember when they were first recovered well the first one or two, If I remember correctly one was a Preist and due to oil and silt ladened with oil, resulting in the personal effects of some of the crew being intact enough to read letters these were recovered including a leather jacket with a guys name in it and by careful checking with the US war department he was traced and reunited with his kit all be it in a different condition to the last time he saw it.

Im sure some of you will have more details on this..?

 

My point is corrosion if not treated straight away can lead to complete deteration in a short time the condition of the French kit is parcially due to this. with the correct work there is no reason that you could end up With a reasonable exhibit especially as these were in the process of being delivered in that no doubt that the majority of the tanks will have been treated and sealed for the journey across the salty waters of the Atlantic. you never know what you will find.

 

BTW and unfortunatly the valantine tanks in Studland as far as I can find out have all been destroyed to a point of beams and bogies due to a Diver recovering live Amo in the 1990s the RN decided in the interests of public safety to blow them up.

 

I truly hope this is wrong and something is more or less intact.

 

follow you dreams as its better to regret something you have done rather than regreting not doing anything

 

good luck guys

 

The Photographer

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  • 2 months later...

I spoke at length with Ken Small on Slapton Sands when he signed my copy of his book. The book makes for some incredible reading, his "obsession" for the want of a better word, contributed in no small way to the failiure of his marriage.

He dedicated himself to exposing this "cover-up" concerning the great loss of life during operation "Tiger" on Slapton Sands during the last week of April 1944. He managed, after many people failed to fulfill their promises of help, including the British army, to recover the tank. A private contractor helped in the end, using of all things, ex-military equipment similar to that which the British army had first offered. When they winched the tank from the sea they had to position the recovery vehicle on the landside of the highway. This meant that each time that they proceded to winch the tank it was necessary to stop the traffic for a while, then slacken and drop the winch cable to allow the traffic to pass, this had to be done several times untill the turret of the tank began to emerge from beneath the waves. All of this work was done in 1984, the fortieth anniversary of the sinking, he was determined to establish this memorial by that date. The local council by this time had allocated an area to establish a plinth on which to display the Sherman tank, roughly near the point of recovery. A company offered, and undertook to coat the tank with a preservative coating.... that tank was recovered in 1984, and the corrosive effects of the salt water had seriously eaten into the steel, so goodness knows what kind of mess anything recovered after this length of time might be??. Slapton Sands are not sandy beaches, but shale, and when the tank was being winched from the sea, as previously described, they had to periodically drop the winch rope to allow the traffic to pass. Well, once the turret emerged from the sea the recovery team again stopped to allow the traffic to pass, only to discover that no vehicles moved, all of the occupants had left their cars when they saw what was emerging from the sea. They continued with the winching, noticing that the tracks of the tank were not turning when it left he waters edge, and was just dragged across the shale. This was a great source of worry for Ken Small, because the tank had to be dragged across the tarmac road, with every possibility of causing serious damage to the road surface, however, the moment that the tank reach hard ground the tracks began to move very freely, all to his great relief, and no prospect of a bill for damage to the roadway. Apart from this fantastic feat of recovery, he brought closure for lots of the american relatives of these 900 or so victims of a monumental cock-up. He was invited, and attended many reunions of the relatives in the U.S. staying with the relatives in their homes. I strongly reccommend that people buy the book, its compelling reading.

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