The scientific collaboration with our partners from the University of Messina made it possible to identify the recently discovered wreck. Apparently, our researchers’ team has submerged to the wreck of French cargo boat “Carimare”, built in 1922. It served several important functions: transportation of passengers and cargo, meteorological observations, and military purposes.
23 January 1943 the “Carimare” was going from Napoli (Italy) to Bizerte (Tunis) escorted by the Italian military ships, when it was attacked by the English navy forces and sunk at the exit of the Messina Strait.
The length of the vessel is almost 111,4 m, and the width is 14,93; it had a three-cylinder, 2400 bhp engine that allowed to travel at the speed of 12 knots. Nowadays this “iron giant” is silently resting on 250-meter depth.
French cargo boat “Carimare”
Historical note about “Carimare” wreck
Carimare cargo was constructed in 1920 for the Société Française d’Armement E. Frisch & Cie, and named SAINT AYGULF, for the line between the Atlantic metropolitan ports and North Africa. It was found to be too large for such a service, therefore, it was exchanged in 1922 with LA SOMME of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique who had already a similar cargo, the CARBET. She was renamed CARIMARE, and served on the line of Saint Nazaire – Algerie. From June 1923 it served on the line to the Antilles. In 1928, the cargo was transformed and served on the line between Le Havre – Bordeaux – Haïti.
In 1937, it was loaned to the Office National de la Météorologie and transformed in a meteorological boat. Stationed at 38◦N 44◦W, and was the first weather forecast station of the North Atlantic. Between 1937 and 1939, it fulfilled 4 missions, helped the transatlantic air development of the Cie Air France Transatlantique who assured in 1939 the crossing between Biscarosse and New York with the hydroplane Latécoère.
When War was declared, it rejoined Funchal, where there it joined a convoy to Le Havre. After the Armistice, it left Marseille and headed towards the West coast of Africa. As an agreement between Laval and Kaufmann it was ceded to the Axis and became the Italian VERONA. She was managed by Adriatica, also the OUED SEBOU II of the compagnie de Navigation Paquet who was renamed PISTOIA. While on their way from Naples to Bizerte, escorted by two Italian warships, on 23 January 1943, they were attacked by British airplanes. VERONA was hit and sunk while being towed the day after, at 38◦32’N and 13◦08’E. PISTOIA sunk at 38◦32’N and 13◦26’E.
Another wreck, “Valfiorita” is located just two miles away from the “Carimare” on the depth of 70 meters. This object is usually being referred as the “Italian Thistlegorm” while it is surrounded by the sunken trucks and motorcycles, which it was transporting to the North Africa. It was torpedoed by the British military submarine HMS “Ultor” in 1943 and sunk immediately.