Leros Battle Wreck – ANTI SUBMARINE NET TENDING VESSEL
Close to the fish farms at Partheni Bay in Leros is a very unusual vessel. This converted ship, of Italian origin served as an anti-submarine net tender almost a floating platform for the winches required for the job.
The raised fo’c’sle shows the cables running forward to the nets, but anchor chains are missing. In the aft corners are strange dome shaped castings, purpose unknown. Steps lead down to the fore deck and both fo’c’sle doors are ajar but seized. Access denied!
Two cargo holds are separated by a huge winch, part of the equipment required for closing the nets. The second hold is ripped open on the port side. This is where the torpedo struck. Access to the lower (tween) decks can be gained through these openings. Aft of these holds companionways run aft down both sides of the superstructure.
Her superstructure lacks a funnel and bridge deck, indeed there is no sign of where her funnel once stood and there are no wing bridges.
Her Galley is found at the front of the remaining superstructure, the access door situated on her port side with the serving hatch forward. A metal canopy hangs above the openings .The single story superstructure is flanked by outward companionways and all the decking has disappeared, leaving a skeletal frame work.
Directly aft of the deck house is the engine room entrance canopy, and twin ventilator roofs, complete with portholes. The Engine has been removed.
The poop or aft deck has the remains of her accommodation below decks, and at the time of writing, an intact wash hand basin remains partly buried in the silt. Due to the lack of wooden decking this area too is easily accessible. Judging from the location of portholes the aft section was used for crew’s accommodation.
The stern is very rounded and chains run aft from both quarters. 20mtrs off the stern are 2 more huge winches, used in moving the anti- submarine nets. The steering quadrant remains on the aft (poop) deck as does the rudder but the propeller has been removed.
Lying off the starboard side amidships, on the seabed, is another huge winch. Presumably caused by the explosion from the torpedo strike. The lack of machinery has so far prevented the recovery of any on site clues as to her original identity.
Despite a huge amount of documentation on this war period, nothing has been found to indicate her origins. Further dives into her interior may produce some clues.
The stern has a very distinctive shape-very rounded and curved, and this feature may aid in her identification. Note the two anchor chains running aft (picture left). Her bow is more traditional, although two strange dome shaped structures are located above her fo’c’sle, port and starboard. The lack of her anchor winch indicates more modifications from her original purpose. There is also no wheelhouse bridge or indeed a funnel casing, suggesting that these were removed along with the engine during the conversion.
Evidence of her final purpose lies on the sea bed, starboard amidships (photo left) and between for two forward holds,(photo right) two huge winches used for the movement of the nets. Judging from the pair of winches lying of her stern, she was positioned between two net which were drawn and opened as required.
An example of the nets can be seen in the Tunnel Museum, and indeed on the seabed at the entrance to Lakki
The intrigue as to her name, identity and former “life” adds to the excitement of diving this very unique and unusual vessel.
Sitting upright on the seabed she is easy to explore and orientation / navigation is easy. It takes several dives to fully explore the vessel.
If you are at least and Advanced Diver (wreck at 36) , book your dive with Hydrovius in Leros.
The wreck is in the list of 91 marine ship and plane wrecks suggested for diving from the Culture Ministry of Greece