Some 75 years after it was sunk by a Polish submarine on 8 April 1940, a Norwegian team has located the wreck of Rio de Janeiro at a depth of 135m near the town of Lillesand in Southern Norway, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporations (NRK) reports.
At the time of its sinking Rio de Janeiro was carrying a contingent of German soldiers meant for the invasion of Norway, which occurred on the following day, 9 April 1940. Of the 380 onboard, 50 were crew, the rest were soldiers. Of these numbers, almost 200 lost their lives, but 183 survived and were helped by the locals. Survivors told officials they were heading to Bergen, and even though they were wearing military uniforms, the Norwegian government failed to realize that a German invasion was imminent.
"We all went quiet"
“The biggest moment came when we went up along the bow until we could get an overview of the ship. That’s when we all went quiet,” said Vidar Johannesen from Agder-Tech AS, a commercial enterprise, which together with Adykk—a dive center located in Kristiansand—has been responsible for the operation, after a six-year search for the wreck. “We had an idea about which ship it was, so we were looking for anything that could identify the wreck,” Tom Lundal, CEO of Adykk, told the NRK.
There was a lot of wreckage strewn across the seabed, wherein which the starboard lantern was found and retrieved. The lantern was imprinted with a serial number, which along with the size of the ships' outline and its contents, left no doubt about the ship's identity. The Norwegian receiver of wrecks stated to the NRK that the ship is considered a gravesite, which is not to be disturned. However, it has been authorized that Rio de Janeiro's ship bell can be recoved and put on exhibit.