About the project

The Franken tanker wreck is the biggest identifed wreck in the Gdańsk Bay. Due to progressive corrosion, it is highly probable that the wreck will break in two parts in the nearest future, and in consequence up to 3 000 000 litres of  oil, stored in its tanks will be released to the environment.

The Franken shipwreck is located near several marine Natura 2000 sites, nature reserves and colonies of the protected grey seal. An oil spill in this area could cause an enormous ecological disaster covering the entire Gdańsk Bay.

The risk of leakage is very high. The question is not whether but when it will happen. We should act now, before it is too late.

Every year, due to corrosion, the ship plating is decreased by approx. 0,06 to 0.14 millimeters. On average the ship’s plating is decreased by approx. 0,1 millimetres every year (a value typical for this area of the Baltic Sea) and thus, 73 years after sinking, the overall corrosive loss is estimated at approx. 7mm. This means that the shipwreck is at the verge of collapse under its weight. This will cause a violent collapse of the wreck and thus uncontrolled spill of all the fuel from the tanks to the environment.

On the basis of the analysis of the surface currents around the wreck performer on a yearly basis, it could be presumed that potential spills would damage the Polish coast and beaches from Piaski to Hel, including many reserves, habitats of the grey seal and very valuable Natura 2000 sites located in this area, among others the Puck Bay and the Hel Peninsula,  the Orłowo Reef, the Vistula river mouth and the Vistula Spit. In such case, many valuable and protected habitats and species will irreversibly disappear.

Why Franken?

There are approximately 20.000 identified underwater objects in the Polish Exclusive Economic Zone. Most of them are shipwrecks. They are a real threat to the Baltic ecosystem, because of fuel tanks, which are exposed to corrosion and in consequence oil leakage.

One of these wrecks, the s/s Stuttgart, located in the Gdańsk Bay, has already caused considerable environmental damages due to an oil spill.  According to the research carried out in 2009-2015, the area contaminated by the oil spill from s/s Stuttgart has increased 5 times and amounts to 415 thousand square  metres. The state of the marine environment in the vicinity of the wreck can be estimated as a local ecological disaster. The research carried out in the contaminated area has indicated a 100% mortality of living organisms, a progressive environmental degradation and increasing contamination range.

S/s Stuttgart was a passanger ship, therefore the fuel which leaked from the wreck came from the tanks serving only its own purposes, needed for its own engines.   

However, the Franken was a tanker and contained much larger quantities of fuel, up to 9.500 tonnes of fuel and 306 tonnes of oils of different types.

The research carried out on the wreck as well as historical documents (e.g. reports of the HQ Kriegsmarine of April 1945) indicates that at the moment of sinking, the ship carried approximately 2.700 tonnes of fuel and approximately 300 of fuel for its own use. This gives a total of 1,5 million of fuel in the sunken ship, which constitutes a direct threat to the Bay and the surrounding land areas.

 

Do not let the Gdańsk Bay become a dead zone!

 

A project entitled ”Reduction of the negative impact of oil spills from the Franken shipwreck”, carried out by the MARE Foundation and the Maritime Institute  in Gdańsk is aimed at reducing the possibility of ecological and economic disaster in the Gdańsk Bay through the development and preparation of the best technical and environmentally safe recovery plan of the fuel remaining in the Franken shipwreck and the acquisition of financing.

This objective can only be achieved with  the widest possible public support, necessary to mobilise the government, scientific institutions and business partners to engage in protecting the Baltic Sea and taking the responsibility for cleaning the wreck.    

The project is a pilot initiative. In addition to the  action plan, a methodology for the cleaning of the wrecks will be prepared. This methodology could be used at other wrecks in the Baltic, which constitute a potential threat to the environment and humans.  

Save the Baltic Sea. Stop the oil spill. Sign the appeal

Short history of s/s Franken.

S/s Franken was a German logistic support ship from the Second World War, sunk by the Russian aircrafts on 8th April 1945, near the Hel Peninsula. It was one of the five identical supply vessels of the German Kriegsmarine, together with Dithmarschen, Altmark, Ermland and Nordmark. In the last phase of the war, the Franken ship stationed in the Gdańsk Bay, mainly in the port of Gdynia or Hel, as part of the Thele group.

S/S FRANKEN during the bomb attack, 8th April 1945 at the moment of the explosion of the ammunition and the bow tanks. ( Source: www.pwm.org.pl) 

S/S FRANKEN during the bomb attack, 8th April 1945 with visible damages to the bow, just before the collapse. (Source: www.pwm.org.pl) 

The Franken was a real giant, alomost 180 metres long, 22.1 metres wide, with the immersion of over 10 metres.  

S/S FRANKEN, projection on the Długi Targ Square in Gdańsk. (B.Hac)