By Pierre Kosmidis
The diving team of Antonis Grafas documented the story of an unknown shipwreck in the Saronic Gulf, Greece.
A few lines in the war diary of the German commander of maritime defense of Attica, dated June 15, 1942, stated that “at 07:15 hrs. the Italian minesweeper ship RD7 sank after hitting a mine. Ships from Aegina island managed to rescue six people from a total of 24 crew”.
The diving team brought back to the surface eerie images from the watery grave of 18 Italians lost with the minesweeper, from a depth of approximately 100 meters.
“The wreck lies at a depth of 100 meters and the diving expedition, as well as the archival sources proved that this is the wreck of the Italian minesweeper RD7 ” says Antonis Grafas.
The minefield that claimed the Italian minesweeper had been laid during the night of 29 to 30 October, 1940, right after the Italian invasion of Greece started on October 28, 1940.
The plans for the minefield were drafted on August 23, 1940, just a few days after the sinking of the cruiser ELLI by the Italian submarine DELFINO at Tinos island on August 15th.
In the evening of June 14, 1942, RD7 sailed from Piraeus for a mission in the south of Aegina island. This was the last mission of the ship, and in the morning of the next day, June 15, 1942, and while RD7 was sailing in the area between Methana peninsula and Moni island, close to Aegina island, she hit a mine and sank in just a few seconds.
According to the war diary of the German navy, the sinking of RD7 was particularly violent, as a result of the explosion and the ship perished with eighteen of the twenty four crew members. The fishermen of Perdika, a village in Aegina, were those who rushed to the scene of the wreck and finally managed to rescue six survivors from a total of twenty four crew members.
Memories from the seabed
The photographer of the diving team Kostas Mylonakis describes the images he saw:
“The area from amidships to the stern is in fairly good condition. On the outside of the wreck the rudder and the propeller of the ship are still visible. Debris is scattered around the wreck”
Distinctive code: R.D. 7
Displacement: 215.67 tons
Overall length: 35.25 meters
Width: 5.88 meters
Engine power: 950 hp
Main weapons: 76/40mm a/a cannon.
Auxiliary armament: Two water-cooled Colt 6.5 mm machine guns .
Crew: 24 people
The diving team
Antonis Grafas, filmmaker, team leader
Kostas Mylonakis underwater photographer
John Liardakis diver
John Moustakas, safety diver
Tasos Tsalavoutas, safety diver
Anna Barbopoulou, safety diver
Dimitris Galon, historical researcher
Dimitris Damigos, boatmaster