Underwater search mission locates 83 wrecks, but not its target

A Polish expedition searching for the wreck of the Polish ORP Orzeł submarine, lost during WW2, ends without locating its target.

“We didn’t find the Orzeł, but during the expedition we made a lot of connections and we collected a large amount of data, which may greatly help us in further search efforts,” said Tomasz Stachura, the head of the expedition.

The “Santi Odnaleźć Orła” mission scheduled for 14 days lasted from July 31 to August 8. It was cut short because of weather problems, but Mr Stachura assures the media that another expedition will be carried out.

“Scanning the sea bottom was very hard, our equipment was at its limits, the Nemo ship was being thrown around by huge waves,” reported the expedition.

Some 83 wrecks were located during the effort, including fishing vessels, merchant ships, old sailing vessels and warships, but Orzeł wasn’t among them. This was the eighth mission since the effort started in 2014.

ORP Orzeł was commissioned into the Polish Navy early in 1939. It took part in the September Campaign, but, due to damage it suffered, had to withdraw to the neutral port of Tallinn, Estonia. There it was interned and all its maps and most of the armament were confiscated.

It escaped on September 18. Without any maps, its crew managed to cross the Baltic Sea, Kattegat, Skagerrak and the North Sea and arrive in Scotland on October 14.

Later, the submarine was involved in British naval operations, including the defence of Norway, where it sunk a German transport carrying invasion troops. It was lost in June 1940 after being ordered to patrol Skagerrak. The cause of the loss remains unknown.