The recovery of the sunken German World War II submarine the U-864, which holds a potentially dangerous cargo of some 65 tonnes of mercury, has been placed on hold after the group charged with its salvage seems likely to be prevented from doing so under its present contract.
The wreckage, which lies near Fedge on the western Norwegian coastline near Bergen, has seen the estimated cost of recovery balloon to somewhere between NOK 1.2 billion and 2.2 billion – double the cost of original forecasts. The submarine has been the subject of ongoing debate amongst salvagers, politicians, local inhabitants and environmental welfare groups who have labelled the wreck as hazardous.
The issue as to whether to bring the wreck to the surface or instead cocoon the vessel in a virtual sarcophagus in order to eliminate the risk of pollution has long been debated by experts involved in the drama, says Norway Post.
The issue appeared settled earlier this year, when the Norwegian government decided in January on raising the wreckage. The initial NOK 800 million contract was awarded to a Dutch salvage company.
However, a new report by the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics and the Norwegian project management organisation the Dovre Group criticises the Dutch salvage group Mammoet and claims a lack of clarity in several areas. The new report further states that going ahead with the operation under the current contract is not advisable, recommending instead that new tenders for the submarine salvage should be called for.