Published May 16, 2018
The wreck of British tugboat ‘Empire World’ was recently found in Faxaflói bay, just off the southwest coast of Iceland, reports The Icelandic Coast Guard.
The ship had disappeared on November 17th 1944 with 17 people aboard, including a sailor married to an Icelandic woman with whom he had a 9 month old daughter. The British Embassy in Iceland and the relatives of said crew members have already been notified.
The Coast Guard found the shipwreck at the end of April, when one of its vessels was sailing across the Faxaflói. The crew aboard spotted unidentified mounds at the bottom of the sea that they believed could have possibly been the remnants of ship.
Since there had been no records of a shipwreck in the area of Faxaflói, the Coast Guard later sent its vessel Baldur, which is usually employed for hydrographic surveying, to examine the mounds with a self-controlled submarine.
It was only after a second tentative of immersion with an underwater camera, however, that the crew managed to confirm that the remnants found belonged to Empire World.
“The fate of Empire World is connected to that of the freighter Goðafoss and the tanker Shirvan, which were sunk by a German submarine in 1944, whose story is well-known,” the Coast Guard writes. “However, not many people know about the tugboat that was sent from Reykjavik to assist the tanker.”
Although Shivan had been severely damaged by the German torpedo, it stayed afloat for quite some time, before drifting off in flames. After the Empire World was sent out to help, the tugboat disappeared and nothing was heard of it until now—74 years later.
Despite speculations, the Coast Guard is still unsure about what happened to Empire World—for instance whether it met the same fate as Shivan. No records of a tugboat being sunk by a submarine were found by German authorities, prompting the Coast Guard to look into weather conditions as a possible cause. No signs of collision with a torpedo or a naval mine have been found either, making the miserable destiny of Empire World quite the mystery.