An expedition of divers, has set out from the port of Gdynia to search for the legendary Polish Navy submarine "Orzel", or The Eagle, which went missing in the North Sea during the Second World War.
Orzel was launched in 1938 just months before the outbreak of World War Two. Though modern for its time, it encountered some difficulty in the shallow Baltic waters because of its large size.
During it's one year duty, Orzel and its crew managed a fine war service record becoming a legend of the Polish Navy. When Nazi Germany attacked Poland in September 1939, Orzel put up a lonely fight with Kriegsmarine units on the Baltic.
Due to the invasion of Poland, the ship had to seek re-supply in neutral Estonia. Placed under arrest due to pressure from Berlin, the crew managed a daring escape.
Deprived of navigation equipment Orzel literally drifted towards Rosyth in Scotland where it was subsequently based joining the ranks of British Royal Navy. The incident had been later used by the Soviet Union to justify its annexation of Estonia on claims it had not adhered to principles of neutrality.
Serving in the British naval forces Orzel took part in numerous convoys. It is also credited with sinking the clandestine German troop carrier Rio de Janeiro in 1940 which revealed Nazi plans of invading Norway. On May 23rd Orzel set out on a succesive patrol mission never to return.
The expedition members will attempt to locate the place where the submarine might have sunk. Several possibilities must be checked as there ave been various hypotheses concerning the circumstances of Orzel's disappearance in North Sea waters in the final days of May 1940. Only then will the sophisticated equipment come handy in penetrating the wreck and searching for clues to support any of the speculations
about the direct cause of the submarine's sinking. One of the most probable is that the ship ran into a mine field, says Krzysztof Piwnicki, head of the expedition.
Once the wreck is located, on-the-spot examination is sure to solve many of the mysteries.[More Info on Orzel]