A total of 40 shipwrecked vessels were discovered near the Lampedusa coast in Sicily. The shipwrecks found date back to World War II. Lampedusa is a tiny Italian island that sits between Sicily and Tunisia.
The wreckage discoveries lie around 20-100 nautical miles away from the island’s coast, at sea depths that vary from 33-140 metres.
The ships discovered mainly were merchant vessels that carried cargoes of war supplies like artillery, explosives, tanks, and army trucks. They sank during attacks in World War II.
Among the ship wreckage, researchers also found the Egadi cargo ship. The ship actively transmitted mail, cargo and passengers to several islands located towards Sicily’s western coast.
The British Air Force heavily torpedoed and sunk the Egadi cargo ship. It sank off on 30 August 1941, about 50 km away in the northeast direction of Lampedusa. It resulted in the loss of 44 lives, though 65 people managed to escape with the help of lifeboats.
Deep-sea divers succeeded in recovering the vessel’s bronze bell, which was redeemed from a depth of 76 metres.
The discovery of the historical wrecks follows 15 years of hard work by researchers. These researchers were assisted by fishermen aware of the site due to large fish gathering in that region.
The wreckage habitat often attracts heavy shoals of fish as it forms up as an active artificial coral reef. A project is also underway to recover lost ship nets that entangle in the submerged ruins.
Researcher Mario Arena of Global Underwater Explorers has described the discovery of the lost ships as “spectacular”. He also stated that a future joint project is on the cards for developing underwater tourism in the submerged discovered ruins.
It would be similar to the underwater tourism avenues in Malta or Croatia. In the meantime, several tests are in process to assess the environmental impact of the vessels, as they carried numerous explosives, tons of fuel, oil and lead.