The Salvage of the Century
On 28 April 1942, HMS Edinburgh was leaving Murmansk harbour when she was torpedoed twice by the submarine U-456. Crippled, she was taken in tow, in an attempt to reach Murmansk, but was pounded continuously by German bombers. Four days later, on 2 May, she was attacked by three German destroyers which damaged her rudder such that she could only turn in circles. She continued firing and even managed to damage the Hermann Schoemann severely enough for her crew to scuttle her. During this fight, HMS Edinburgh was struck by another torpedo and it was decided to abandon and scuttle the ship. Even then it took several attempts to scuttle the vessel but eventually, a torpedo from HMS Foresight finally succeeded in sinking her. sink.
At the time of her sinking, HMS Edinburgh was carrying 4.57 tonnes of Russian gold (with a value at today’s prices of almost £200 million), as payment to the Allies for the supplies during the war. The vessel was in very deep water (245 m), in Russian Waters and was classed as a war grave. so it was not until 9981 that a British company was awarded the contract to salvage the gold.
In late April 1981, the wreck was located and 4 months later the salvage operation began. In September, after several set backs, the salvage team successfully recovered 431 of the 465 gold bars from Edinburgh’s bomb room where the gold was stored. The divers were diving on a n’no cure no pay’ basis to depths that had not been attempted before. It was a high risk project– one of the greatest deep-sea salvage operations in history and dubbed, ‘The Salvage of the Century’.
Ric Wharton’s book covers his own salvage experience, the Arctic Convoys (which included HMS Edinburgh), the search for the wreck, recovering the gold and the return to the wreck to recover a few remaining bars, acquire the ship’s bell and hold a memorial service to honour Edinburgh’s dead.
Hardback with gloss laminate cover.198 pages
Black and white photographs + 16 pages of colour photographs
210 mm x 262 mm (approx. 8.25 x 10.25 in)
2000, Best Publishing Co, USA