Sunken Subs

Sunken Subs

My wife and I recently finished watching a TV show called White Collar.  We will find a series on Netflix and spend a month watching a previously run TV series.  We may watch about five episodes a week.  White Collar began running in 2009. 

            The final episode that we have seen involved finding a villain who had found a lost World War II submarine that had sunk off the North American coast.  In this case it was a lost German sub.  The storyline hinted that the Nazi sub had left Germany just before the war was lost and was probably headed for South America.  It obviously did not complete its journey.  But what was so special about this sub?

            Evidently it was carrying lots of European war loot including priceless paintings, stolen jewelry, and lots of gold and silver coins.  The value would be in the billions of dollars in today’s market.   You will have to watch the show to find out if the sub is located, much less salvaged, and how much of the treasure was still intact.  We will watch to see if Netflix will continue with the next season. It was fun to contemplate the possibility of that much treasure ever being found.  It would have been the greatest treasure find of all time.

            The story was not very realistic in my opinion, but the idea of finding a sunken sub and salvaging some of the cargo is very possible.  A few months ago I watched a documentary about a U boat found in the North Sea that will prove to be difficult to salvage because of the depth of the water, and because of the volatile nature of the cargo.  This particular sub was also one of the last to leave Germany before the end of the war and was headed for Japan.  It carried material that would have helped the Japanese in their quest to develop an atomic bomb.  I believe that the sub carried lots of canisters of mercury which the Japanese needed in order to continue their research.  The sub was filled with containers holding the liquid metal.

            It is feared disturbing the metal containers which have been in salt water for over 60 years could actually cause a release of the mercury.  On the hand if nothing is done, the containers will eventually corrode to the point of releasing the contaminant.  At some point something will need to be done.  This is one sub with no valuable cargo, just dangerous cargo.

            There is something fascinating about locating sunken submarines.  It is doubtful many of them had treasure although a few most certainly carried gold bullion.  Yet they all have a story to tell:  a piece of history in the mosaic of mankind’s endless struggle between nations.  When I created Treasure Trove decades ago, I choose to place a sunken sub in the North Sea.  I have since found that children playing the game are quite intrigued with the idea of a sunken sub.  It is one of their favorite treasure pieces to collect while playing the game.