Ship sail

19th century shipwreck in Greece identified as the Italian ship “Taormina”

Taormina, which had sailed from Istanbul bound for Piraeus with a cargo of goods and passengers on board, sank while sailing west of the islet of Patroklos in the early hours of September 11, 1891. Credit: NAMA

A wreck that has languished in the waters off Cape Sounion, Greece since 1891 has finally been identified as the Italian freighter ‘Taormina’, 130 years after it sank beneath the waves.

“It’s one of the rarest wrecks,” the researcher said. Kostas Thoktaridis, speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday. “It seems almost unbelievable how well the mast has been preserved,” he added.

Thoktaridis, who has dedicated his life to studying the seas with robotic vehicles, explained how the Taormina, which had sailed from Istanbul bound for Piraeus with a load of goods and passengers on board, sank while sailing west of the islet of Patroklos in the early hours of September 11, 1891.

A few hours earlier, the steamer “Thessalia” had sailed from Piraeus for the island of Syros. Due to poor maneuverability, the two ships found themselves on a collision course and the ‘Thessalia’ rammed her bow into the left side of the ‘Taormina’, fatally shattering her hull.

During the few minutes that the two ships were in contact, 32 of the crew and 12 of the passengers managed to jump on the “Thessalia”. The captain of the “Thessalia” then ordered the engines to reverse in order to free themselves from the other ship.

Water rushed into the breach and very quickly filled the Italian ship, which began to sink rapidly, dragging 23 passengers and 11 crew members down to the depths within 15 minutes of the initial impact.

Wreck found 107 meters deep off Sounion, Greece

The only person to swim out of the sinking ship was a firefighter who spent five hours clinging to wreckage until he was picked up by the steamer “Makedonia”.

Sixteen other people were found in a lifeboat lowered from the “Taormina” the next morning, by the schooner “Ambelos” and Captain Dogas, who received a medal of bravery from the Italian authorities.

The Greek press at the time criticized the Italian crew for abandoning ship before helping the passengers, who comprised many of the 34 people killed.

Thoktaridis said the “Taormina” was found at a depth of 107 meters, west of the island of Patroklos, off Sounion and was in very good condition considering the weather. elapsed since its sinking, while the damage caused by the collision is still evident. to have.

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