Giant Shipwreck Discovered At The Sea Bottom A Few Miles Off The UK Coast
A huge shipwreck lying at the bottom of the sea just a few miles off the UK coast was discovered, and now, more information has been uncovered about it. Just off the East Yorkshire coast, below the waters, is a gigantic steel structure that was an ocean liner long back.
Below 100 feet the murky waves is a wreck that was once one of Europe’s finest vessels, per HullLive. Dubbed ‘Poland’s Titanic’, MS Pilsudski sank 30 miles off the Humber coast and has now become one of the UK’s largest, but least known shipwrecks.
Weighing over 15,000 tonnes and measuring beyond 500ft in length, the vessel sank in November 1939. It was one of the significant shipping losses of the opening months of the Second World War.
Named after Jozef Pilsudski, the proud founder of modern Poland, MS Pilsudski was his joy and pride. In 1935, following her maiden voyage, she went to complete her sails from Europe to America, the Caribbean, and Canada — and each time was completely booked.
She reportedly hosted a 350-member and boasted an art-deco style with dining halls, gymnasium, cocktail bar, and smoking rooms. On the deck, she also had a swimming pool, sports and sun decks, and a tennis court. But, her fate was sealed by the outbreak of the Second World War back in 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland.
The Pilsudski was on its way back from New York to Gdynia when her passengers suddenly heard on the radio that their country was at war, leaving them more desperate for more news from family members back at home.
A M Cohen associated with the Newcastle Jewish Board of Guardians informed the reporters that the passengers left it in Newcastle. But on picking up her passengers, the luxury fittings were stripped off in Newcastle. The Pilsudski was then transformed into a mere troop transport.
By mid-November, her first orders were announced. She had to sail to New Zealand and Australia to pick up Commonwealth soldiers and bring them back to the UK. Now the elegant liner turned into a warship.
She left Newcastle on 25 November 1939 with captain Mamert Stankiewicz. There were over 150 crew members onboard.
However, sometime after 5.30 am a huge explosion took place under the keel and the ship right away started listing to port. It was sailing alone, and most crew members were fast asleep except those on the bridge and in the vessel’s engine room. The lights went all out and electrical power was reportedly lost. The radio operator tried to send an SOS but failed. In the dark, crew members helped those who were injured when portions of the decks collapsed.
Then two minutes after the first, a second explosion rocked The Pilsudski and she began sinking. Captain Stankiewicz ordered to abandon the ship. Soon, lifeboats were lowered into the sea.
However, Captain Stankiewicz was on board. The survivors saw him on the deck. He was refusing to leave until he was sure that the crew members escaped into rafts and boats. He dived into the waves and was dragged to safety by the other survivors.
The raft was spotted finally by a Royal Navy destroyer. The men somehow managed to get grip of the nets to safety. Captain Stankiewicz, who was suffering from exhaustion, shock, and exposure, however, could not manage to grasp the ropes. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly afterward. Later on, for his bravery, he was awarded the Virtuti Militari Cross, which is the Polish equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
It’s considered that over 171 individuals were rescued. There were reports a 16-year-old boy’s body was recovered, even though this is not confirmed. Whether the Pilsudski sank with other men trapped below is still not clear even though initial reports mentioned that seven continued to be missing. Remarkably, The Pilsudski lay undiscovered for 40 years. In 2008 the forgotten wreck was visited by Polish divers. They explored and filmed the vessel but did not have enough information or proof to suggest what resulted in her sinking.
The Pilsudski is rotting on the seabed. Her bow is intact even though broken away and lies at an angle. On the other hand, a part of her stern has reportedly collapsed. The decks where her guests would dine, laugh, and dance are there but collapsing into each other from the huge water pressure.
The Polish National Maritime Museum has to say that the cause still remains a big mystery. However, it is also now believed that she was sunk by explosions from two magnetic German mines in the Humber region, and not due to torpedoes.
But while physical remains will not remain, her memory, especially in Poland, remains bright. The vessel’s former home port of Gdynia reportedly screened a film charting the ship’s loss, history, and wreck site, last week. The film was produced by Koncept Kultura, a cultural and historical organization that has been shown in Warsaw. A dedicated website exclusively devoted to the Pilsudski is in the making. It will help future generations learn more about The Pilsudski.
References: Mirror, Hull Live