Scuttled boat at Puntarenas moving to be historical heritage

The Museo Nacional has this newspaper photo of the ‘Fella’
and the ‘Eisenach’ in the distance burning after explosions.

Lawmakers are moving to give historical protection to a World War II Italian ship that was scuttled at Puntarenas.

The legislature’s Comisión Permanente Especial de Ciencia y Tecnología y Tecnología gave the go ahead Tuesday to a measure that would designate the “Felle” as historical heritage of the country. The wreck has been a source of metal for salvage crews, and officials are trying to stop this. The bill now goes to the full legislature for likely passage.

The vessel can be seen offshore at low tide.

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo has ordered that any salvage work on the sunken cargo ship be halted and asked that the Servicio Nacional de Guardacoastas and the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación keep watch on the site.

The “Fella,” and the “Eisenach,” a German cargo boat, both sought shelter in a neutral port when war loomed in Europe.

Anthropologist Roberto Le Franc Ureña has outlined the events on a Museo Nacional Web page. He said that the German boat had been in port since Sept. 1, 1939, and that the Italian boat arrived from Panamá June 5 the next year. The vessels basically were stranded.

There was concern that the boats were being used by Nazi spy networks. Costa Rican officials stripped both vessels of their radios, the anthropologist said, but there were rumors that the boats were back on the air and perhaps getting messages sent in code by lights on shore.

March 31, 1941, both vessels suffered an early morning explosion and sank. Capt. Gabriel Locatelli Gabrielli of the “Fella” and Capt. Gerhard Loers Struck of the “Eisenach” are presumed to have received orders to scuttle the ships.

Not long after, Le Franc noted, the “Eisenach” was raised and repaired. It went back into service as a cargo ship, he said. Attempts to raise the “Fella” were unsuccessful.

It was believed carrying a cargo of marble, although there were rumors of war materials.

Salvagers had brought cranes to the site to raise parts of the boat before officials intervened in May.

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