MURMANSK, July 25. /TASS/. Russian Northern Fleet specialists have raised a 100-ton freight locomotive from the anti-Hitler coalition’s Thomas Donaldson Arctic convoy transporter from the bottom of the Barents Sea in a unique operation, the fleet’s press office told TASS on Monday.
The Arctic convoy ship Thomas Donaldson was sunk by a German submarine at the end of World War Two in the western tip of Kildin Island near the entrance to the Kola Bay. It sank at a depth of 55 meters.
"This operation for raising the locomotive was carried out for the first time in the history of underwater technical work. Diving specialists of the Northern Fleet, as well as operators of the Pantera + and Obzor-PRO uninhabitable remote controlled submersible vehicles were involved in the works," the fleet’s press office said.
The locomotive-raising operation was held in several stages. First, the locomotive’s 30-ton boiler was retrieved from the transporter’s cargo hold, which was followed by an operation to raise its running gear consisting of five wheel pairs weighing a total of about 60 tons.
Two diving boats with operational pressure chambers and a team of medical staff aboard were used for descents.
The Northern Fleet divers have been surveying the Thomas Donaldson transporter since 2010. In the first year of their surveying work, the Northern Fleet divers raised a road roller and transferred it to the exposition of the Krasin icebreaker museum.
In the subsequent years, the divers retrieved a US Sherman tank, a 90mm anti-aircraft gun M2 and another two road rollers.
As the Russian Northern Fleet press office said, the divers also raised the second US Sherman medium tank, a 102mm gun, an antiaircraft machinegun and some small items - artillery shell casings and projectiles.
All this military hardware was supplied to the Soviet Union under the lend-lease program in 1941-1945. All the artefacts retrieved from the Barents Sea bottom will be delivered to Severomorsk, the Northern Fleet’s main naval base.
The Russian Northern Fleet’s measures in the area of the sunken Thomas Donaldson transporter will be continued in early August, the fleet’s press office said.