A team of Greek divers has discovered recently the wreckage of an Italian submarine that was sunk by the Allied forces in 1941 off Mykonos.
The “Jantina,” which sank on July 5 from the torpedoes of the British submarine HMS Torbay, lay at the bottom of the Aegean without anyone knowing its exact location for more than 80 years.
Kostas Thoctarides, the leader of the team who located Jantina at a depth of 103 meters (338 feet) off Mykonos, told the Athens Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) that he knew that the wreckage was in the area, but “we did not know exactly where.”
Submarine wreckage is very rare
“It’s fascinating, you don’t come across a submarine wreckage every day, it’s a journey through history,” he said.
The detection was made possible thanks to the submarine remote-controlled vehicles available to Thoctarides team in the context of inspections of underwater projects, such as pipelines and cables.
Thoctarides, a naval history enthusiast and author, has discovered four modern shipwrecks at Mykonos, Skiathos, Kefalonia, and the Saronic Gulf. He says that only a portion of shipwrecks has been located in the Greek seas.
“My estimate is that a quarter has been identified in total,” he said, based on his shipwreck record after years of study. “Greece is a country with a very important naval history. There is historical wealth in every region,” he added.
Only 6 survivors from Jantina crew
The Italian submarine was launched in 1932 in La Spezia, Italy. Its length was 61.5 meters, and its diving displacement was 810 tons. On the surface, it had a maximum cruising speed of 14 knots, while in diving 8. Its maximum operational depth was 80 meters. Its armament consisted of 4 torpedo tubes in the bow and 2 in the stern.
On her last voyage, she had sailed from the Greek island of Leros. The submarine was carrying 48 crew. On the afternoon of July 5, 1941, she sailed to the surface, south of Mykonos, heading west.
The British submarine HMS Torbay, which had sailed from Alexandria, Egypt, and was conducting its 3rd offensive patrol in the Aegean, spotted her.
“The confrontation of two submarines is a rare naval event,” says Thoctarides. The HMS Torbay, according to the war diary compiled by its commander immediately after the attack, located Jantina from a distance of 4 nautical miles, sounded the alarm and, being at a periscope depth, took the attack position.
At 20:16 HMS Torbay launched a torpedo attack with a bunch of 6 torpedoes from a distance of 1500 yards.
The first two torpedoes passed in front of the Italian submarine without finding the target. At 20:17, however, the second group of torpedoes hit the target. The result was the rapid sinking of the Italian submarine.
From the Jantina crew, only six people managed to survive by swimming under difficult conditions to the nearby island of Delos.