On August 7, 2015, U-Boat Navigator has started the second stage of its expedition; exploration objects are located in Italy. As soon as all work in Greece has been successfully completed, the vessel arrived to Messina. This part of the expedition is being organized according to the Agreement of cooperation with the University of Messina: U-Boat plays a significant role in carrying out the underwater archeological and biological research.
U-Boat’s archeological tasks at Messina Strait include the confirmation of several deep wrecks locations and collection of some artifacts (with the permission of Italian Authorities) to be preserved within the Italian museum. Furthermore, underwater equipment will be used for identification of unknown wrecks and compiling newly discovered facts into the tragic stories of their wreckage.
Strait of Messina
It is the first time our research vessel “U-Boat Navigator” performs research activities in this area. Therefore, the team has been strengthened: Dr. Timothy Gambin, Ph. D., from the University of Malta, an archeologist with the unique experience in participation and management of various underwater projects in the Mediterranean together with the representative of the University of Messina are currently onboard. The Strait of Messina is located at the very toe of Italian “boot”, connecting the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian Seas of the Mediterranean, and dividing the east coast of Sicily from the southern coast of Calabria. The strait is 3 km wide in its narrowest part, and 22 – in the widest, the depth reaches more than a 1000 meters. Constant and multidirectional at different depths currents, strong tides closer to the coast, abundance of coastal rocks and shallows; since ancient times all those factors created the challenging reputation for this logistically convenient passage! Natural whirlpool, that are formed in the most narrow parts of the passage, served as the beginning for legends of Scylla and Charybdis, mythical sea monsters, residing on both sides of Messina Strait, who destroyed ships and brought death to numerous sailors.
The shipwrecks here rest at the great depths, almost inaccessible to divers. However the unique research equipment on board of U-Boat Navigator will not only help to find the sunken objects, but also to investigate them, get a closer look at them and create the documentary footage, in order to make the further identification possible.
The very first immersion happened to be very exciting and productive! On the 7th of August “Navigator” researched the antique vessel, which cargo was construction materials – blocks, rail-posts, bricks, etc. On the request of the Italian partners, some artifacts were obtained and recovered from the seabed; they are now being kept onboard, preserved in the special huge water tanks.
August 8th started with a DISCOVERY! A WWI time vessel was found at the depth of 250 meters. We had to scan and research a pretty wide area, as far as the hypothetical location of the ship was not precise. We conducted several submersions with the use of Triton 3300/3 submarine accompanied by the ROV – Ageotec Perseo GTV. The ROV couldn’t get very close to the wreck, as it is densely shrouded by fishing tackles, thousands and thousands of fishing ropes and hooks settled there. Nevertheless, we have filmed the wreck in a great detail. The reason of her wreckage is clear, it happened due to the powerful explosion. However at the moment we still not sure, what ship is it. We hope that guns on board will help us with the identification.
First pictures from the newly discovered wreck are coming soon!