Montevideos Schiffsfriedhof – Montevideo’s Ship Cemetery

Montevideos Schiffsfriedhof  (English text s. below).

Südamerika-Kreuzfahrt 2017, Uruguay. – Zurück in Montevideo, für einen Tag. Unser Kreuzfahrtschiff, die “Celebrity Infinity“, hat am Hafen der uruguayischen Hauptstadt angelegt. Dies ist die erste Station unserer Kreuzfahrt. Sie wird uns die nächsten zwei Wochen von Buenos Aires über Kap Hoorn nach Valparaíso in Chile führen, um die Südspitze von Südamerika und Kap Hoorn herum.

Wir stehen auf dem oberen Deck der “Infinity” und sehen auf die breite Bucht von Montevideo hinunter. Wrack an Wrack an der Mole gegenüber, ein richtiger Schiffsfriedhof im Fluss. Der Río de la Plata, an dem Montevideo und das 220 entfernte Buenos Aires liegen, ist für seine Seeschlachten und Wracks bekannt.

Die bekannteste Seeschlacht fand 1938 statt. Das deutsche Panzerschiff “Admiral Graf Spee” war von der deutschen Kriegsmarine eingesetzt worden, um Handelsschiffe der Alliierten im Südatlantik zu kapern. Nach einer Seeschlacht mit britischen Schiffen musste die “Admiral Graf Spee” im Hafen von Montevideo notlanden. Sie wurde jedoch gezwungen, den Hafen wieder zu verlassen, ohne alle notwendigen Reparaturen durchführen zu können.

Der Kapitän des Schiffs, Hans Langsdorff, war der Auffassung, dass er den Briten unterlegen sei. Er wollte verhindern, dass die “Admiral Graf Spee” und ihre Militärtechnologie den Kriegsgegnern in die Hände fiel. Daher ließ er das Schiff nach drei Seemeilen ankern und Sprengsätze im Schiff scharf machen. Er ordnete an, dass die Mannschaft sich in Sicherheit brachte. Danach wurde das Schiff in die Luft gesprengt. Die Crew rettete sich nach Buenos Aires, wo sich Langsdorff erschoss.

Das Wrack der “Admiral Graf Spee” liegt nicht im Schiffsfriedhof von Montevideo, sondern immer noch dort, wo das Schiff explodierte, acht Meter unter Wasser. Der Kapitän hatte damals darauf geachtet, das Schiff außerhalb der damals gültigen Drei-Meilen-Zone zu versenken. Inzwischen gelten jedoch zwölf Seemeilen als Hoheitsgebiet. Damit liegt das Wrack heute in uruguayischen Gewässern.


Der Schiffsfriedhof von Montevideo (Uruguay)
The ship cemetery of Montevideo (Uruguay)

Montevideo’s Ship Cemetery.

South America cruise 2017, Uruguay. – Back in Montevideo, for one day. Our cruise ship, the “Celebrity Infinity“, has docked in the port of the Uruguayan capital. This is the first stop of our cruise. It  will take us from Buenos Aires to Valparaíso in Chile in the next two weeks, around the southern tip of South America and Cape Hoorn.

Dies ist die erste Station unserer Kreuzfahrt, die uns die nächsten zwei Wochen von Buenos Aires nach Valparaíso in Chile führen wird, um die Südspitze von Südamerika und Kap Hoorn herum.

Wir are standing on the upper deck of the “Infinity” looking down on the large bay of Montevideo. A lot of ship wrecks on the opposite mole, a real ship cemetery in the river. The Río de la Plata, where Montevideo and Buenos Aires (at the other side, 220 km away) are situated, is known for its sea battles and wrecks.

The best-known sea battle took place in 1938. The German armored ship “Admiral Graf Spee” was used by the German Navy to capture trade ships of the Allied Forces in the South Atlantic. After a sea battle with British ships the “Admiral Graf Spee” was damaged and had to dock in Montevideo’s port. However, she was forced to leave the port without her crew having been able to do all necessary repairs.

The captain of the ship, Hans Langsdorff, thought they weren’t up to fighting the British. He wanted to make sure that the “Admiral Graf Spee” and its military technology wouldn’t fall into their enemy’s hand. Therefore he had the ship anchored after three nautical miles and got explosive charges ready. He ordered the crew to get into lifeboats. Then the ship was blown up. The crew could reach Buenos Aires where Langsdorff shot himself.

The wreck of the “Admiral Graf Spee” doesn’t lie in Montevideo’s ship cemetery but is still located at the same place where the ship exploded, eight meters under water. The captain had taken care at that time that the ship was sunk outside of the three miles zone. But in the meantime the sovereign territory has been extended to twelve nautical miles. Hence the wreck is situated in Uruguayan waters today.

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