Norway's most famous wreck turns 80 years

On January 6, 1940, S/S Frankenwald got caught by the current, foundered and sank on the Norwegian west coast. Norway's most popular and iconic wreck turns 80 years old today.

Norway's most famous wreck turns 80 years


Norway's most famous wreck turns 80 years

On January 6, 1940, S/S Frankenwald got caught by the current, foundered and sank on the Norwegian west coast. Norway's most popular and iconic wreck turns 80 years old today.

  6. January 2020
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The steamship Frankenwald was heading for Germany from Narvik with a load of 7.971 tons of iron ore. In the narrows north of the Sognefjord she was caught in the current, foundered and sank within an hour and a half.

The crew went in the lifeboats and survived the ordeal, being picked up by local fishing boats which came to the rescue. The ship itself was beyond recovery, and Frankenwald slipped beneath the waves and now rests upright in 150 ft. depth.

See video from the wreck:

Video: Andrius Dir/YouTube

A twist of fate

Frankenwald was built at Deutsche Werft AG in Hamburg, Germany in 1922, and measured 399,6 x 54,2 ft. Her tonnage was 5.062 GRT and a triple expansion steam engine gave her a speed of 11 knots.

To avoid being captured in international waters by the Royal Navy, Frankenwald had to navigate the inner sea-lane along the Norwegian west coast – war had already broken out in Europe.

Captain Erich Otto Moritz von Frankenberg had planned to stay overnight north of where Frankenwald foundered, but the anchorage was full due to bad weather the days before. He had no choice but to continue in the darkness.

Frankenwald in dry dock in Hamburg sometime in the 1930s. The image was colored by

Belonged to the Wald-class

Frankenwald was owned by Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Aktiengesellschaft, better known as Hamburg-Amerika Linie – or just HAPAG. In addition to her cargo capacity, she could also accommodate a small number of passengers if need be.

She belonged to HAPAG's Wald-class, which besides Frankenwald was made up of Niederwald, Steigerwald, Westerwald, Wasgenwald, Idarwald, Kellerwald, Schwarzwald, Spreewald and Odenwald, all built at Deutsche Werft AG.

The ships in the Wald-class were very similar in appearance, construction, and size, but only two of them were true sister ships. HAPAG also incorporated two ships bought from abroad in the class – Sachsenwald, and Grünewald.

The wreck stands upright and is in great condition. Echosounder image: Gulen Dive Resort

Norway's best wreck dive?

The wreck stands upright and is in fantastic shape – believed my many to be Norway's best wreck dive. The deck lies at 80 to 110 ft., making this wreck accessible for most divers.

The propeller and cargo were salvaged after the war, and the wheelhouse collapsed a few years ago. Apart from this, the wreck is in pristine condition and full of interesting sights. Both masts are still standing, even after 80 years below the surface.

Gulen Dive Resort runs regular trips to the wreck, which is just about half an hour boat ride from the resort at the mouth of the famous Sognefjord. If you haven't visited Frankenwald yet, you should put it on your bucket list!




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