Found: A WWII Tank Left Underwater Since a U-Boat Attack in 1945

It was hauled out of the water during a Russian military exercise.

A rusted Sherman tank in Guam. (Photo: melanzane1013/CC BY 2.0)

Early in March of 1945, a convoy of 26 American ships left Scotland and headed north, towards the Barents Sea, to deliver aid to Soviet allies. The ships had traveled up Scandinavia and were heading to a port not so far from the Russian border, when they were attacked. A German U-boat hit the Thomas Donaldson, a convoy ship loaded with 7,679 tons of cargo, including food, ammunition and giant tanks.

Now, as part of a military exercise, Russian divers have rescued one of those tanks from the seafloor.

After the ship was hit, in the engine room, it was towed towards its destination, but never made it. The ship sank off the western tip of Kildin Island, about 75 miles from the border with Norway. Three members of the crew died during the attack and another died later of injuries. But most of the crew was rescued and made it safely to shore. The Donaldson was the only boat in the convoy that failed to make it to the destination.

When it sank, it took down with it those thousands of tons of cargo, including a 102mm gun and antiaircraft weaponry. There were at least three tanks on board: another was rescued in 2014. There are some great photos of that operation here: after decades underwater, the tanks are fuzzy, rusty messes. 

Every day, we highlight one newly found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.