Bismarck Expeditions

James Cameron's Expedition: Bismarck May - June 2002

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Expedition Diary
Before the Expedition

Sunday 19. May 2002:

Early in the morning I went to the Copenhagen International Airport, Denmark to fly to Hamburg, Germany where I arrived at 09:45.

I was picked up by a car that would take me to Kiel. While I was on my way to Kiel the Russian research vessel Keldysh arrived at Kiel harbour.

Photo: Keldysh seen from the aft at the pier in Kiel, Germany.
Photo: Keldysh seen from the fore at the pier in Kiel, Germany. The big crane is working on loading the different gear we needed for the filming at the wreck site etc..

After a short half an hour stop at a hotel in Kiel we went to the pier where the Keldysh had now arrived. At the hotel I first saw the 3 Bismarck survivors and two veterans of the Prince of Wales. Time was limited and I didn't speak to them on this occasion.

Photo: Film gear etc. waiting to be taken on board the Keldysh.
Photo: In background the aft part of the Keldysh and on the pier film gear and other equipment needed for the expedition.

When we arrived there was already a hectic activity with trucks and vans bringing expedition equipment to the pier. As the Keldysh had just arrived we had to wait for quite some time before we could embark the ship and bring the equipment onboard. This was because the German customs had to check the ship to see that everything was in order.

Photo: Here the expedition team members belongings are waiting to be taken on board the Keldysh.
Photo: A view towards the Mir 1 submersible in its hangar on board the Keldysh.

Later that day I met with 3 Bismarck survivors (Karl Kuhn, Heinz Steeg and Walter Weintz) and two veterans of Prince of Wales (Christopher Peacy and David Roome). We were immediately on good terms and from this day and until the end of the expedition we shared many good times.

Photo: Bismarck survivor Heinz Steeg. Here I discussed some of my photos of the Bismarck with Heinz Steeg who makes some notes.
Photo: Group photo of Bismarck survivors (from left to right) Karl Kuhn, Heinz Steeg and Walter Weintz.

Bismarck survivor Heinz Steeg doesn't walk well anymore and he had to decline the offer of going with us to the wreck site. Heinz Steeg visited the Bismarck wreck site in 2001 on an earlier expedition though. But he would spend the time together with us until we would leave Kiel to start our expedition. Also Prince of Wales veterans Christopher Peacy and David Roome would only be with us until we would leave Kiel. Then they would return to England.

Photo: From left to right, Karl Kuhn, Heinz Steeg and John Asmussen. Walter Weintz was the photographer.

At night we had dinner at a restaurant in Kiel.

I went to bed at 03:00 in the morning.

Monday 20. May 2002:

I got out of bed at 07:45.

Photo: Bismarck survivors Walter Weintz (left) and Karl Kuhn (right) in front of the keldysh in Kiel.
Photo: John Asmussen (left), Walter Weintz (center) and Karl Kuhn (right) before our visit to the naval memorial in Laboe.

I had planned to visit the Marine-Ehrenmal (naval memorial) in Laboe about 16 kilometers from where the Keldysh was moored. I was allowed to borrow a mini bus so I could take with me the three Bismarck survivors (Karl Kuhn, Heinz Steeg and Walter Weintz) and the two veterans of Prince of Wales (Christopher Peacy and David Roome) and the wife of Christopher Peacy with me to the naval memorial. The two veterans of Prince of Wales and Mr. Peacy's wife as well as Bismarck survivor Heinz Steeg were staying at a hotel in downtown Kiel which was about 7 kilometers from where the Keldysh was moored . Also the mini bus I was going to use was at the hotel in Kiel. So Andrew, the driver that had picked me up at the Hamburg airport took me to the hotel where I took the mini bus and picked up the people staying at the hotel. Then Andrew and I drove back to the Keldysh where I picked up the two other Bismarck survivors. Now I was ready to take them to the naval memorial in Laboe. We only had a limited time because the Bismarck survivors and the Prince of Wales veterans should be back on the Keldysh for interviews by James Cameron at 15:15 in the afternoon. We had a great time at the naval memorial and spent almost 2½ hour there. We would have loved to stay there longer but we had to return for the interviews.

Photo: Information board of Prinz Eugen at the naval memorial in Laboe near Kiel in Germany.
Photo: One of the propellors salvaged from the wreck of the Prinz Eugen at the naval memorial in Laboe.
Photo: Bismarck survivors in front of the scale 1:50 model of the Bismarck at Laboe. From keft to right, Karl Kuhn, Heinz Steeg and Walter Weintz.
Photo: Prince of Wales veterans, Christopher Peacy (left) and David Roome (right). They survived the battle with the Bismarck and also survived the sinking of Prince of Wales 10. December 1941.
Photo: Battle of the Denmarck Strait veterans and survivors from the sinking of their ships. From left to right, Karl Kuhn (BS), Christopher Peacy (PoW), Heinz Steeg (BS), David Roome (PoW) and Walter Weintz.
Photo: The German U-boat U-995 at the naval memorial in Laboe near Kiel, Germany. This U-boat was built at Blohm & Voss Shipyard in Hamburg which also built the Bismarck.
Photo: Group photo of the Prince of Wales and Bismarck veterans which I took when we left the Marine-Ehrenmal (naval memorial) at Laboe. From left to right, David Roome (PoW), Christopher Peacy (PoW) looking at post cards, Karl Kuhn (BS), Walter Weintz (BS) and Heinz Steeg (BS).

On our way back to the Keldysh we made a short visit to the U-Boot Ehrenmal (U-boat memorial) which isn't that far away from the naval memorial in Laboe.

Photo: The 85 meter high tower at the naval memorial in Laboe.
Photo: The U-Boot Ehrenmal (u-boat memorial) in Möltenort near Laboe. The column and eagle is all together almost 20 meter high.
Photo: A view from the U-Boot Ehrenmal (u-boat memorial) towards the Marine-Ehrenmal (naval memorial) which tower can be seen in the center of the photograph.

At night we again had dinner at a restaurant in Kiel.

I went to bed at 03:30 in the morning.

Tuesday 21. May 2002:

I got out of bed at 06:45.

Prepared some material about the Bismarck for the project.

A friend of mine, American Bob Weymouth, had kindly allowed the project to use his wonderful model ships which were used to illustrate the battles that Bismarck was involved in during Operation "Rheinübung". I spent some time making the ships ready for use.

Photo: A photo of three good friends of mine in front of the Keldysh in Kiel. From left to right, Dr. Holger Herwig, University of Calgary, Canada. Bismarck survivor Karl Kuhn and Dr. David Bercuson, University of Calgary, Canada. Dr. David Bercuson and Dr. Holger Herwig have written the book, "The Destruction of the Bismarck" which was published in 2001.

Also I picked up some German soil which I had planned to place on the wreck of the Bismarck to salute the ship and the dead sailors.

The Keldysh was due to sail on Tuesday evening. But it was re-scheduled as we were not ready to leave. Our departure was re-scheduled to be Wednesday morning.

I went to bed at 11:00 at night.



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