Northern Fleet divers salvage two Sherman tanks from the bottom of the Barents Sea
© RIA Novosti. Igor Podgornyi

Northern Fleet divers salvage two Sherman tanks from the bottom of the Barents Sea

Specialists from a Northern Fleet rescue party operating in the Barents Sea have salvaged two World War II Sherman tanks from The Thomas Donaldson, a US freighter that was sunk in 1945, the Northern Fleet press service reports.

According to Northern Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, who is on a working visit to the site, these are the third and the fourth tanks the Northern Fleet experts have salvaged from The Thomas Donaldson during the last few years.

"Divers continue examining the holds of the US freighter that sunk during the last war to see if it is at all possible to lift any more pieces of the old equipment," he added.

Admiral Yevmenov noted that The Thomas Donaldson is a training vessel of sorts that deep sea divers use for carrying out a full range of underwater exercises in case of emergencies on board submarines or surface ships.

There are plans to sum up their best practices and submit a memorandum to the High Command of the Navy for assessment and potential use by other fleets.

The Northern Fleet's rescue party consisting of the KIL-143 engineering ship and two diver support vessels arrived at the 1945 disaster site on July 3. For one and a half weeks, deep divers in light outfits used unmanned TV-controlled underwater craft to perform operations at the depth of over 50 meters. They managed to clear the debris from the sunken ship's upper deck and in its hold, strap two Sherman tanks and lift them to a support ship's deck. Certain other smaller things like AA gun shell cases were lifted too.

The Northern Fleet commander has ordered that the support ship be replaced by a crane ship that will help to salvage several more big motor and armored vehicles.