A British freediving team has become the first to dive the 52m-deep wreck of the WW2 submarine HMS Perseus, off the Greek island of Kefalonia.
The Perseus hit an Italian mine in 1941 but the wreck remained undiscovered until 1997. The story of the seemingly miraculous ascent of the sole survivor has since made the wreck famous.
The UK-based NTX Extreme Location Freediving Team dived the Perseus on 28 September.
“The dives themselves were not really the tough part,” said expedition leader Marcus Greatwood. “Accurately locating a wreck at that depth followed by anchoring and creating a stable platform in the open sea were the real challenges.
“As a war grave, we felt that tying off to the wreck would be disrespectful, even though this would have made holding position much easier. Even anchoring at this depth is quite a technical challenge.”
HMS Perseus is “an enigmatic wreck with a rich history to match”, said Greatwood. At 88m she was one of the largest submarines used in WW2. The mine blew a hole in her bow on 6 December, 1941, as she waited to ambush an Italian convoy.
The Perseus had 59 crew and two passengers aboard, one of whom was stoker John Capes. Wearing the Davis Apparatus, a simple oxygen rebreather, Capes helped other sailors through the escape hatch before getting away himself.