On September 29, divers of the expedition centre of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense lifted a StugG III self-propelled gun near the coast of Crimea, in Kalamitshy Bay. The work was carried out at the site where on November 23, 1943, German transport ship Santa Fe was torpedoed and sunk with all its cargo.
Santa Fe was just a few hours from its final destination when she was hit by a torpedo, torn apart by internal explosions she broke in half and sunk. 1,278 tons of vital military cargo was gone, including ammunition, fuel, 2 Jagdpanzers and 12 Sturmgeschütze assault guns. In a bizarre event on December 15, 1943, Santa Fe was further damaged by a German submarine hunter on patrol, that mistaking the wreck for a Russian submarine, launched depth charges. The remaining ammunition on Santa Fe detonated, and the UJ 102 went down in the explosion with all 53 people on board.
The wreck was lifted using a special floating lift installation, at the bottom steel cables were attached to the wreck and then it was pulled up. Considered to be in fair condition, further cleaning and restoration work will be undertaken by specialists of the Russian Geographical Society.
This isn’t the first wreck recovered from Santa Fe, in 2002, two other StuG III were recovered after an ambitious plan to recover some of the vehicles from the wreck. One of those vehicles is the one currently on display at the Weald Foundation. The vehicle has gone under an extensive and meticulous restoration and was unveiled for the first time to the public at Tankfest 2009, nearly 66 years after it left the assembly line.