Santa Cruz’s Landlocked Secret Submarine Base

January 27, 2013

It’s called  Montaña de La Altura  and these days it serves as an ad-hoc storage facility for the Santa Cruz Port Authority and the  Miguel Pintor González  junior and infants school.

But at the height of  world war II  it was designed to be a secret submarine base intended to defend the archipelago.

In the 1940s the Spanish army excavated three huge domes over 170 meters long and about nine meters high into the cliff side, which were intended to connect to a nearby natural volcanic tube

But the submarine base was never put into commission.

Juan José Benítez Díaz, a doctor in History from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria  (author of The Spanish Armada and defending Islands during World War II), has uncovered the existence of a Reserve Law (ie secret, only to authorities) regarding Naval Constructions dated September 1939, which details a hugely ambitious plan to assign twelve submarines to the Canary Islands.

The submarines never arrived -  Germany did not come forward with the funds or the technological expertise needed to complete the project, although the excavation did continue.

It is not known whether the original plan of connecting to the natural volcanic tube or pushing through a man made tunnel to the north dock would have been attempted.

But in any case, Benítez Díaz believes it may have been as late as the  1950s when the main construction terminated, and by then World War II was  long over, so the exit to the sea never went ahead.

Could the base be turned into a future museum?

Amongst the more modern school desks and filing cabinets which have been stored away,  there is interesting memorabilia of all kinds, generally in good condition, such as a divers air pump from the 1940s, a classic safe and a fantastic old Humber which used to be driven by the head of the port authority.

Treasures just waiting for someone to take advantage and turn the once secret base into a Tourist attraction for Santa Cruz.