Removal of the sunken German fleet from the World War II in

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Removal of the sunken German fleet from the World War II in sector Prahovo

Posted by Viktoria Weissenburger, Monday, 22nd October 2018 @ 11:54 am

Basic  project  data 

Project ID: PA1A073

Need  and  added  value  for  the  Danube  Region  Strategy

Downstream of the Ðerdap II dam at Prahovo a large graveyard of shipwrecks is present along the border between Serbia and Romania. These wrecks date from the end of the Second World War when these vessels were left behind and sunk by retreating German forces. The exact number of vessels which are located on this stretch is unknown, but 23 sunken vessels have an influence on the safety of navigation, since their presence narrows the minimum fairway width of 180m to 100m during low water seasons. Since the sunken ships are part of the German war fleet, there are unexploded ordnance (UXO) and Explosive Ordnance Disposals (EODs) on board of them, which present constant danger for human lives, the environment and are threatening navigation, in particular in cases where hazardous substances are transported (such as oil, gases, flammable substances, etc.). The vessels and the unexploded ordnance have to be removed.

Some of the vessels are partly positioned within the fairway and passing ships need to sail very cautiously on this section, as a collision between vessels and wrecks may result in calamities and even cause the explosion of ordnance. The navigation situation is characterised as hazardous, especially during periods of low water.

Objective(s)  of  the  project 

The project’s objective is to improve the conditions for safe navigation on the Danube (sector Prahovo), in particular during the low water level periods by removal of the German sunken vessels from WW II.

The Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, in cooperation with the German Government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), initiated the first phase of this project which includes the searching for and the removal of the UXO on boards of these ships.

In July 2017, the site was visited by specialized German divers. Based on their analysis and work plan the removal of UXO on boards of all these ships will be conducted during 2018. The costs of implementing this first phase of the project have been estimated to amount to approximately EUR 2 million and funding required will be provided from the State Budget.

Following the removal of UXOs, the technical documentation and tender dossier will be updated. The Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure has provided financial and technical assistance for these activities through the PPF8 Project. Based on the updated technical documentation and tender dossier, the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure will apply for funding for the second phase of this project, which includes the removal of the demined sunken vessels.

Planned  project  activities

  1. Phase: Removal of unexploded ordnance
  2. Phase: Removal of sunken vessels

Transboundary  impact

The whole inland navigation sector in the Danube Region will benefit from the planned measures. River traffic on the Serbian part of the Danube is mainly transit from the Black Sea to Hungary, Austria and Germany. Consequently, there is a large benefit for the EU to keep this corridor functional and guarantee safe and efficient navigation. Resolved bottlenecks in one sector of the Danube have a positive impact on all Danube riparian states involved in inland navigation.

Moreover, due to the ongoing corrosion of the vessels leakage of contaminated materials might take place which is an environmental hazard.

Project  beneficiaries  /  target  groups

The users of the waterway are the main beneficiaries of the project.

status  and  timeframe

Start date: 2017
End date: 2020


Project and tender documentation were already done in 2006, financed by the CARDS Program (pre-IPA). The vessels were not removed. Deadline for the removal of UXO: December 2018


Total budget: EUR 22 million (estimation)

EUR 2 million for the removal of UXO
EUR 20 million for the removal of sunken ships
state funds and possibly IPA or other EU fund

Project  team

Project leader: MCTI - Directorate for Inland Waterway (Plovput) / Serbia
Address: Francuska 9, 11000 Belgrade / Serbia

Project partners: German Government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Project  environment

Project  cross - reference

  • To remove shipwrecks, bridges debris and unexploded weapons from the riverbed of the Danube (project example in EUSDR Action Plan)
  • Danube Shipwreck Removal (DSWR) – PA1A033

Strategic  reference

Serbian strategic Framework:

  • Master Plan for IWW Transport in Serbia (2006)
  • Serbian Transport Development Strategy for Period 2008-1015 (2008)
  • General Master Plan for Transport in Serbia (2009)

eusdr  embedding


eusdr  compliance


Other  relevant  issues

project  requirements

Sufficient funding for the removal of the vessels

any  other  issues

The Danube is an international waterway and inevitably the successful completion of the project should increase the use of the waterway and reduce transit times. The sustainability of the project will reflect establishing uninterrupted navigation conditions on the Danube in Serbia and providing increased transport capacity and reducing transport time and river accidents and, which should save costs.

meta  data

Data provided by: Ivan Mitrovic (Plovput / Serbia) - 09.03.2012
Last update by: viadonau, based on information provided by the Serbian Ministry of Transport in 2018 - 11.09.2019

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