Salvaging ships in Massawa, 1943 – after the liberation of Eritrea from Italy

Massawa 1943 salvaging ships

Original caption: “Already in Drydock after being salvaged from the muddy Massaua harbour, the ship at left is undergoing repairs, while the former Italian ship ‘Tripolitania’, also raised from the bottom of the harbour, stands at right. Passed by Censors.” 18 February 1943

“Don’t think he’ll do it – but he did”

“Massawu, Eritrea – The British laughed when Captain Edward Ellsberg, famed submarine salvage expert, announced that he was going to raise the sunken dry dock in Massaua harbour, scuttled by the Italians before the British took over. ‘Impossible – You’ll never do it,’ they said.

‘Wanna bet?’ the Captain calmly asked. They laughed again. ‘Put up or shut up,’ the Captain said. The British ‘put up’ – to the tune of $2,000.

Making a collection among Americans stationed at the harbour, Captain Ellsberg matched the sum and got to work.

Today the dry dock stands, good as new, in the harbour of Massaua – a miracle of salvage. Scuttled German and Italian ships, pulled up from the Red Sea, are rejuvenated there and pressed into United Nations Service. Allied ships will also use the dry dock as a repair station.

And the Americans who backed Captain Ellsberg doubled their stakes in the venture.

Following series shows American salvage crews operating in the harbour.”


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