Category Archives: Articles

H. M. MOTOR LAUNCH 130

By 1942 the western Mediterranean had become an extremely dangerous place for even the most powerful British warships. For the small, wooden, lightly armed Fairmile B Motor Launches, it was death trap which made cunning and deception a vital recipe for survival. Although they lacked the speed of the Motor Torpedo Boats and Motor Gun Boats, they proved their worth time and again with their versality and ability to operate in heavy weather. Also, although they lacked the speed to deal decisively with the faster S-boote, the Fairmiles packed heavy firepower and provided a significant deterrent to the German convoy raiders.The following pages are the story of one of these motor launches: H.M.M.L. 130 or simply, ML 130.

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HMS Olympus: a historical note

During the Second World War, due to the difficulty of passing convoys to Malta, submarines were used to run essential supplies to the island. Among those which contributed towards this hazardous task was HMS Olympus (N35), which unfortunately, in the early hours of 8th May 1942, few kilometers off the coast of Malta, is said that hit a mine and sunk.

HMS Olympus, an O- or Odin-Class submarine, was commissioned in 1930. This class submarine measured 86.5 meters length, 6.1 meters width and had a draft of 4.9 meters. Her displacement was 1,781 tons surfaced and 2,038 tons when submerged.

From 1931-1939 HMS Olympus formed part of the 4th Flotilla operating out of Hong Kong. After that she was with the 8th Flotilla, in Colombo, Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). In 1940 she was redeployed to the Mediterranean.

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The discovery of Burdigala

Greek island of Kea truly inspires divers from all over the world. No wonder: an illustrious HMHS Britannic is lying just a few miles offshore. But it is not the only Kean underwater treasure. Making an approach to Korissia port technical divers can spot another intriguing location – S/S Burdigala. And that’s exactly where U-Boat Malta expedition headed to after having finished things on Britannic.

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Britannic-2014 review in pictures

It’s been a while since “Britannic-2014″ expedition has ended, but the impressive amount of the video materials gathered lets researchers continue with their studies even today. We now take a look at some of the best pictures made during the mission…

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The history of WW2: ‘Magic Carpet’ flying underwater

Numerous wrecks lying around Malta dumbly bear testimonies about the past. Many of those sunken ships clearly remember their last days, done in midstream of World War II. Back at those time Malta bravely served as a bastion of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean. The country courageously resisted massive attacks of the Axis powers, but supplies were running very low…

In 1941 it became clear that the supply of Malta by surface ship would be a hazardous operation involving both Force H at Gibraltar and the Fleet at Alexandria. From either base, a passage of some 1,000 miles was involved for merchantmen i.e. four days steaming of which a considerable proportion would be in a daylight, outside British air cover and within range of Axis air bases. Also, from the advent of enemy’s air power such a supplement became essential, and could be provided only at great risk by fast surface warships, or by the use of submarines.

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Pages of History: last voyage for “Polynesien”

“Polynesia” was launched in 1890. After almost 30 years of perfect service it was attacked by the German submersible boat. For nearly 100 years she’s been resting a couple of miles away from Valletta harbor. The ship seems to be a real magnet for divers and researches, attracting their attention for decades. No wonder “Polynesia” is now known as a “Titanic of the Mediterenean”…

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Simon Mills: “Interest in the Britannic is now a lot bigger than it was 20 years ago”

U-Boat Navigator expedition to Britannic in 2013 opened new horizons for the research team agenda. Explorers are planning to get back to the famous wreck during the 2014 to broaden perspectives for camera shooting. Meanwhile, we have a talk with the Britannic’s owner, renowned maritime historian Simon Mills.

– Do you remember the moment you decided to buy the wreck? – As it happens I remember it very clearly. It was actually July of 1996 that I first heard that the UK Government’s former title to the wreck of the HMHS Britannic was up for sale…

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The battle of Chesma and the Russo-Maltese relations

by Joseph-Stephen Bonanno, B.A.(Hons) (Melit.)

During the 18th century Russia and Turkey were frequently at loggerheads, culminating in the Russo-Turkish war (1768-1774). One major battle in this war was the sea battle of Chesma (24-26 June 1770). The aim of this paper is to try to demonstrate the contribution, both direct and indirect, of the Maltese and the Order of St John in this Battle.

The Russo-Maltese Connection dates back to 1698 when the first Russian delegation reached Malta during Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful magistracy…

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Sergey Veksler: “After each immersion you resurface being a new man”

Renowned Russian actor Sergey Veksler plunged to the bottom of the Kea Channel (Greece) during the expedition to the wreck of HMHS Britannic.

‘The appetite for the action reigns on the surface. But here, at depth, you feel an incredible tranquility. All you want is to keep silent and reflect, meditate. After each immersion you resurface being a new man’… – he says.

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HMHS Britannic: the sleeping giant

HMHS Britannic. The third and largest Olympic-class ocean liner of the White Star Line still puzzles the explorers and lures for underwater visit. She is one of three sister ships (together with RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic), built as the transatlantic passenger liner. But the First World War broke out, changing her destiny. In 1915 Britannic was transferred into a hospital ship…

Unfortunately, Britannic's lifespan happened to be way too short. In just about a year after a launch (on 21 November, 1916) she was lost by an underwater mine, failing the attempt to pass the Kea Channel.

The ship sank in just 55 minutes, leaving one of the biggest mysteries in maritime history. How could such a giant, additionally reinforced after the loss of the Titanic, go down in less than an hour?.. Britannic was the biggest ship lost in the First World War. Fortunately, out of 1,066 people on board, 1,036 survived the shipwreck.

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