The Säntis was compared to the Titanic after she sank beneath Lake Constance in 1933, as both magnificent ships met their premature ends. As the ship sank, its enormous sterns rose from the water, causing it to descend slowly into the grave.
The pair share technical similarities in how they were built and used, such as using an innovative three-cylinder steam engine. But unlike arguably the most well-known shipwreck in the world, the Säntis will rise from the ashes for a triumphant return to the shore.
The Swiss authorities have given the Ship Salvage Association the go-ahead to pull her back up and raise her onto the neighbouring land safely later on in March. Since she sank, Lake Constance has kept the vessel in excellent condition in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Silvan Paganini, the association’s president, said it is in good condition.
We have a freshwater lake here. It’s deep at about 210 meters, incredibly dark there, and not enough oxygen, so it is well conserved. You can still see the paint and read the letters on the ship’s side.
Once the Säntis gets salvaged from the lake’s depths, she will be recognized officially as the oldest yet still surviving steamship from Lake Constance. Dubbed after the Alpine mountain, the Säntis could easily carry up to 400 guests and spent nearly 40 years sailing across Lake Constance.
Sitting 158 feet long, the vessel was considered a trusted transporter ship. Despite the Titanic’s similarities in look and design, the Säntis sank once it had been plagued with money issues. Paganini mentioned the ship was the first to transfer from a coal-powered engine to an oil-driven one, which ultimately caused its tragic downfall.
He continued that the vessel had been sunk as it was unused and no longer needed. It was a massive crisis back in 1933, and they took away all that they could still use, so, for example, the whole wooden deck was removed as they could burn that wood to make heat. Additionally, just a few of the doors, for instance, were discovered in the village’s cellars. The steel was still available at that point and was cheap amid the crisis.
In May 1933, the captain chose to scuttle the Säntis since the cost of wrecking her was ten times higher than that of scrapping her entirely. By the conclusion of World War II, the crew had deliberately sunk the magnificent vessel, and she was nearly forgotten.
However, the Säntis was part of a fantastic £182,000 crowdsourcing effort to bring the vessel to the surface after recovering it in 2013. Paganini said that the cheapest solution would be lifting bags. They are like balloons that work underwater; once one fills them with air, they steal.
The idea is to do the first lift by the end of March, from 210 m to 12 m, followed by the final lift from 12m to the surface in April. The Säntis will be restored at the shipyard based in Romanshorn – where she was renovated in 1898. Paganini said they wanted to make a public presentation on what they had, the monuments from their predecessors. That is their primary goal.
Reference: The Sun
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