Black Sea wreck’s identity hidden by ghost-nets

Net on the myystery wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)
Net on the myystery wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)

A mysterious 100m-long steamship wreck has been found at a maximum depth of 55m in Turkish waters by members of the Black Sea Divers Sports Club – but to identify or date the vessel, they first need to remove the huge amounts of ghost-net that shroud it.

The divers had been helping out fishermen from the town of Hopa in Artvin province, in the south-eastern part of the Black Sea. They had been asked to clear ghost-nets said to have been killing fish and affecting catches over a wide area, and found the wreck while carrying out a survey, according to the dive-team, whose discovery has attracted considerable interest in Türkiye.

Divers IHA
Club members show video of the wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)

“We found a widespread wreck about 1.5 to 2 nautical miles from the coast,” said club president Rıza Birkan at a press conference covered by broadcaster IHA. What the divers found initially was the vessel’s mid-to-stern section, which they measured and found to be 53m long with an 11m beam. They also located the boilers.

The team took video footage and examined the condition of the wreck as far as they were able. Typically for a Black Sea wreck, mussels coat many parts not already obscured by netting.

Fish still the right side of the nets on the wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)
Fish on the right side of nets draped over the wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)
Mussels on the wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)
Mussels on the wreck (Black Sea Divers Sports Club / IHA)

“We determined that the nets surrounding the wreck were causing harm to marine life, with many organisms becoming entangled,” said Birkan. “Approximately 1.5m of the wreck is buried in the seabed, with 4.5 to 5m above it. The first step is to remove the nets.”

Club vice-president Erdinç Turanli estimated that some 10 tonnes of net could need to be removed to give the divers a chance of identifying the vessel from name-plates and its cargo. This needed to be done quickly to save marine life, he said, because hundreds of fish had already been caught in the nets.

Turanli said that the mayor of the nearby coastal city of Rize had offered to help in arranging the ghost-net clearance operation.

Also on Divernet: Black Sea ‘lost fleet' U-boat located, Black Sea wreck art treasures investigated, Divers investigate ‘world's oldest shipwreck‘, Forgotten Shipwrecks: The Ghosts of Gallipoli

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