Kolay discovers WW2 British sub in Aegean

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Kolay discovers WW2 British sub in Aegean

Long-lost British WW2 submarine HMS Simoom has been located and dived by the noted Turkish wreck-hunter Selcuk Kolay.

The wreck lies in deep water about 6 miles north-west of the Turkish Aegean island of Bozcaada and 17 miles from the entrance to the Dardanelles.

Kolay and his team had been scanning the area for possible WW1 and WW2 wrecks for two years, using side-scan and imaging sonar, and had located four steamships, identified as the Eleni, Nantaise, Maya and Wilhemsburg.

“One of the recent searches brought a surprise – a submarine at a depth of 67m!” Kolay told Divernet.

“Since we did not expect to find a sub in the related area, and with no known report of such a loss, we carried out a few dives to verify that what we had seen on the sonar screen was really a sub.”

Kolay and fellow-diver Ali Ethem Keskin dived using rEvo rebreathers with an 18/45 mix as diluent, while another team-member, Kaya Yarar, used the same mixture on open circuit as travel and bottom mix.

“The visibility was excellent, and when we reached a depth of about 45m we could clearly see that we indeed had a submarine wreck below us,” reported Kolay. A quick tour established that the 60-70m vessel, which lay upright on a sandy bottom buried up to the waterline, was in excellent condition.

The forward hydroplanes were of a folding type found on British submarines, and the single external torpedo-tube visible at the stern was also typical of S-Class subs.

Kolay reported extensive damage near the starboard hydroplane, probably caused by a surface mine. The fact that the hydroplanes were folded underlined that the sub would have been navigating at the surface when hit.

The conning tower was covered by fishing-net, but the 3in deck gun was still recognisable in front of it.

Only two British submarines were known to have been lost in the area, and the number of torpedo tubes and absence of a gun platform among other factors suggested that the find was Simoom (named after a desert wind) rather than HMS Trooper.

Researchers British submarine expert Dr Innes McCartney and Turkish film-maker Savas Karakas were consulted and “we came to the conclusion that this is indeed the wreck of HMS Simoom,” said Kolay. “We hope to have solved another naval puzzle of WW2, and think that the descendants of HMS Simoom’s crew will be very much interested in knowing their ancestors’ grave.”

Simoom, part of the third group of S-class Royal Navy submarines and built by Cammell Laird, was launched in October 1942. The 66m vessel carried 48 crew and was armed with six forward and one aft 21in torpedo tubes, 13 torpedoes, one 3in gun, one 20mm cannon and three .303 machine-guns.

Serving in the Mediterranean, Simoom is known at one point to have fired torpedoes at the Italian light cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi, missing the target but hitting and sinking the destroyer Vincenzo Gioberti instead.

In early November 1943 the submarine was sent on patrol to the Aegean, and within three days was diverted to the entrance of the Dardanelles. On 15 November she was ordered to return to Port Said, but never arrived.

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