During ww2 the Central Mediterranean sea was theater of a long and dramatic fight between the Italo-German and the British Commonwealth naval and air forces. The three years long struggle was aimed on both parts in ensuring their lines of traffic and in contrasting that of the enemies.
In particular, the difficult task the Italian Navy had to face was that of supplying the Italo-German Armies who were fighting in the North African deserts. For the British the matter was that of interdicting that traffic, destroying the Axis supplies at sea, and to refurnish the strategical island and base of Malta. Dozens of ships and hundreds of aircrafts were sunk during the 38 months of uninterrupted fightings.
Since 2006, in collaboration with the Submerged Heritage Authority of Region Sicily – the Soprintendenza del Mare – we are exploring the international waters and high sea off the coasts of Sicily and Tunisia, searching for shipwrecks with the help of fishermen and historical records and accounts.
During our 13 field campaigns in that area we located 41 historical shipwrecks, 28 of which sunk during the WW2 Naval War in the Mediterranean and had never been dived before.
Once located a shipwreck, an effort for its identification and documentation starts. For several of these wrecks this is still an ongoing effort, and every year we keep adding new data, materials and discoveries. Several of the wrecks are extremely spectacular, with cargo holds full of military vehicles and supplies, colonized by an incredibly rich sea life. During our expeditions we gathered hundreds of pictures and dozens of hours of footage.
Our work will soon be featured in a documentary currently in development, produced by the award-winning company Doclab https://www.doclab.it/ of Rome.
THE MUSEUM ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA
One of the main goal of the project is to produce and collect high quality documental materials to set up a permanent multi-medial exhibition dedicated to the Battle of the Convoys of the Mediterranean and to its historical wrecks as well as for the publication of other educational materials.
We aim at opening the exhibition in the spring of 2023, on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the end of the Battle.
The intent is to use the fascination exerted by the wrecks to raise an interest in the general public for this dramatic story that involved two generations of sailors, soldiers and aviators of European and Commonwealth Nations and to commemorate the dozens of thousands that overwhelmed by the absurdity of war, lost their young lives while fulfilling their duty.
During the next campaigns we will continue to search and locate new wreck sites, we’ll start performing tridimensional photogrammetry of some of the wrecks and videos of their interiors with 360° stereo technology.
We’ll also continue the collection of datas, water and core samples in collaboration with the Institute of Toxicology of the University of Kiel, in order to allow a structured evaluation of the environmental risk provided by the huge quantities of chemical explosives materials and of the hydrocarbons contained in these wrecks.