‘SANTI Odnalezc Orla’ is a long-term project, which aims to discover the wreck of the most famous submarine of the Republic of Poland -ORP “Orzel” with his 60-man crew and unraveling the cause of her sinking.
The purpose of the project is also to refresh the memory of the heroic actions of the ship’s crew as well as to properly emphasize the role of the Polish Navy played in the years of World War II to maintain our statehood. It is also important to cultivate the memory of ordinary seamen – members of the ship’s crew who, rising above human frailty and discomfort, have performed in their service for their homeland unprecedented in the history of the sea wars actions.
Our team is composed of people with different passions, but all of us are motivated by one goal and the pursuit of the same idea. Find a ship that more than seventy years ago disappeared without news somewhere in the North Sea and pay homage to the crew, thus recording the last card of her story.
To the relatives of the seamen give the peace back, which is missing to anyone who does not know the resting place of their loved ones.
The search team consists of four divers, two hydrographs and two historians. We are helped by filmmakers and photographers. Each of us also brings our own professional experience, which allows us to overcome the logistic, organizational, technical and legal problems associated with such expeditions. Despite extreme sometimes tempers, we have managed to create a well-functioning group and believe that we will achieve our goal together.
To make the first stage of exploration, on the North Sea we were preparing, let say, for years. The great majority of the work that consists in achieving our chosen objectives is not aboard the ship or underwater, but in archives, museums, libraries, and often in meetings with dozens of people, each of whom may have a particle knowledge, leading to unraveling the riddle. You just need to ask the right questions and persistently strive to get answers for them.
Asking the questions about the fate of the ‘Orzel’ and seeking the answers, the way of life in the last few years has been made by historian Dr. Hubert Jando. He has a great deal of merit in infecting us with the passion that united our team. The results of his many years of scientific work – he is the author of the dissertation which subjects are i.a. the hypothesis of the ORP “Orzeł” disappearance – became the basis for the research work carried out at the turn of May and June, and in particular the basis for the proper identification of the search area. The area in which we conducted the research is a place in the current state of knowledge, according to Dr. Hubert Jando, responding to the most likely hypothesis of the sinking cause, namely the sinking of an air attack by the British Air Force.
Correct planning of the scope of the conducted measurements required months of work of the team members (not only in the archives but also on the ground) to obtain data on wrecks lying in the designated area, subsequent analysis of data acquired and their initial assessment. Precisely the purpose of the expedition, however, was one of the stages. The expedition was to be logistically planned, to bring to the UK on a unit from which we conducted the measurements, more than two tons of technical equipment needed, and most importantly the crew members without whom the whole undertaking would have been impossible.
On the ship from which we performed the research, Dr. Benedykt Hac and Jarosław Nowak (Kostek) – hydrographers of the Maritime Institute in Gdansk, with many years of experience, were responsible for correct measurements, also for carrying out the survey on IMOR unit during the expedition in 2008. The scope, type and results of the studies are described in details in the section– SANTI Expedition 2014.
It is important to realize that such an expedition is not just an expedition, but what happens in the meantime – research, fundraising, daily works of the team. The reward is, however, the few days in a year when we leave everything, we board the ship and we can focus on one thing – achieving the goal.
The research carried out is both a complement of the previous expeditions carried with the intention of finding the ORP “Orzel” wreck on the North Sea as well as the beginning of new activities aimed at verifying current hypotheses about the fate of the “Orzel”, which were succeeded in formulating from the time of the previous expedition. Despite of not finding the ‘Orzel’ among discovered and checked wrecks, each subsequent wreck brings us closer to the one we care most about.
At present, we focus on two main goals, spreading the idea that guided us, to bring about the proper remembrance of seamen from the ‘Orzel’ deck, hence the idea of this portal to serve both “experts in the subject” and anyone wishing to supplement their knowledge about “Orzel” and her fate. We also encourage everyone to participate in the creation and development of our websites, to discuss the fate of our ship, in particular, encourage the seamen families from the “Orzel” to share stories about their missing loved ones, or even share their photos to enable future creation and illustration of biographies of all members of the “Orzel” crew, which we would like to create.
Regardless of the results of future researches and chances to find the ‘Orzel’ we are sure that it is above all worth recalling the history of the ship and its crew, which, despite all fate adversities, thanks to their courage and determination, proved both, the concern for the homeland and its own sense of responsibility, for their own fate and the fate of their compatriots