For our company the year of 2014 has been marked by many remarkable immersions. Among the wrecks we had a chance to dive there was HMS Russell – a Duncan-class predreadnought battleship sunken in 1916, during the World War I.
Thursday, 27 April 1916 was a dark page in Malta’s First World War history. A tragedy occurred. Not one, nor two, but three ships were lost and sunk a few miles off the Grand Harbour after hitting mines – all on the same day. Those mines were placed there by the same culprit. What was intended to be a fortnight rest in Malta for the crew of one of those ships, ended up being an eternal grave for 124 for them… This is the story of HMS Russell and its men.
After many years beyond recall HMS Olympus is back in the limelight. A new life to a great story has been recently given by mass media, covering the news on the first-ever visit to the sunken sub.
“It is a pleasure to see public interest to HMS Olympus. I have been following this topic for some 10 years, and I know how labyrinthine was the historical evidence one could establish his reasonings on while trying to re-locate the sub…
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.
U-Boat Malta explorers and maritime archaeologist Dr. Timothy Gambin plunged to the depth of around 120 meters in a submersible C Explorer 5.8 to investigate the sunken British submarine HMS Olympus. It was a first-ever visit paid to a legendary wreck of HMS Olympus, tragically lost outside of the Valletta Grand Harbour in 1942.
“HMS Olympus was one of the last remaining undiscovered warships from World War II and it provides further material evidence of the conflict that raged off the Maltese coast. The visit to wreck in the submarine enabled us to gather vital information on the damage suffered by the Olympus, which will in turn enable us to better understand the circumstances that led to her loss”, – Dr. Gambin of University of Malta comments on the event.
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.
We have come back from our Greek expedition, and it is just about time to turn our hands to mission analysis. In the meantime we feel honoured to share our latest appearance in media.
“Maltese vessel examines shipwreck of Titanic’s sister ship” – the “Times of Malta” heading is saying, telling this beautiful country about our accomplishments in Aegean Sea.
Having completed the Britannic mission, U-Boat Navigator team went on with the underwater research and participated in the expedition devoted to another WW1 wreck, S/S Burdigala.
The stories of two ships were tied up forever by dramatic events of the World War I. November of 1916 turned into a tragedy for both of them. Burdigala was the first to strike a mine near the island of Kea. In just a week Britannic followed her path, striking a mine from the same mine field, laid by German sub U-73.