BACK IN ISTANBUL, I started to investigate what the two old wrecks might be. After some archive research and consulting with documentary producer Savas Karakas, I was quite sure that they had to be related to the Battle of Oinousses, which took place between the Ottoman and Venetian fleets more than 300 years ago, on 9 February, 1695.
Cannon on the site.
This battle began off Cape Karaburun in western Anatolia. The Venetian fleet consisted of 21 sailing ships of the line, five galleasses and 21 galleys, under the command of Admiral Antonio Zeno, while the Ottoman fleet boasted 20 sailing ships of the line and 24 galleys under Kapudan (Admiral) Mezzo Morto Huseyin Pasha. The battle ended in defeat for the Venetians, with three of their 60-gun ships, Stella Maris, Leon Coronato and Drago Volante, blown up, while the San Vittorio was so badly damaged that she had to withdraw.
The two wrecks I had located had to be those of the Stella Maris and Leon Coronato, because the former had been recorded as coming under fire, with
Leon Coronato coming alongside to her assistance. The two ships were said to have sunk side by side.
I also learnt that Greek researchers had carried out extensive searches in recent years, hoping to locate these wrecks in their territorial waters.
Because I have an engineering rather than an archaeological background, I tend to prefer to be involved in researching shipwrecks of the Steam Age, including the submarines from this era.
So, this being an archaeological discovery, I reported my find to Dr Harun Ozdas, who is responsible for the underwater archaeology at the Institute of Marine Sciences & Technology of the University of 9th September in Izmir.
He was quite excited by what I told him and decided to organise an expedition for further studies of the wrecks.