By Pierre Kosmidis
The wreck of the Greek WW2 submarine Y1 “Katsonis” has been located according to the Hellenic Navy, close to Skiathos Island, at a depth of over 200 metres (other sources claim the depth to be closer to 600 metres).
The Hellenic Navy ship “Naftilos” (Nautilus) conducted a thorough research of the seabed and located the wreck of a submarine, which is thought to be the famed Y-1 “Katsonis”, lost on September 14, 1943.
Despite being an aged submarine by World War II, it was used extensively in war patrols and commando operations in the Adriatic and the Aegean Sea, before being sunk by a German subchaser in 1943.
1925 – Laid down
1927 – Launched
8 June 1928 – Commissioned. First captain is Cdr Κ. Arvanitis.
3 – 10 Nov. 1940 – First war patrol (under Cdr Spanidis). Adriatic, 216 hours (84 subm./132 surf.).
22 Dec. 1940 – 4 Jan. 1941 – Second war patrol (under Cdr The Argus, 6 January 1941 (Australian newspaper)Athanasios Spanidis). Adriatic, 312 hours (132 subm./180 surf.).
31 Dec. 1940 – Sinks the 531-ton Italian freighter Quinto (531 GRT) off Antivari
14 – 21 Feb. 1941 – Third war patrol (under Cdr Spanidis). Adriatic, 168 hours (60 subm./108 surf.).
24 Mar. – 1 Apr. 1941 – Fourth war patrol (under Cdr Spanidis). Adriatic, 216 hours (84 subm./132 surf.).
From Port Said to Port Sudan Apr. 1941 – After the German invasion, Katsonis escapes to the Middle East, operating with the British Pennant number N 16.
2 July 1942 – Damaged while exiting a dry dock at Port Said.
28 Mar. – 10 Apr. 1943 – Fifth war patrol (under Cdr Laskos). Aegean/Crete, 408 hours (170 subm./238 surf.).
After patrolling the North Aegean and later disembarking commandos in the Lakonia, Katsonis encounters three sail boats, which, contrary to orders, Laskos spares because they were carrying food to Piraeus during the famine.
The same day they encounter another sail boat, one of the crew of which offers information regarding the movements of an enemy patrol boat off Gytheio.
They take him on board and give him the nickname “Lafiro” (plunder).
2 Apr. 1943 – Katsonis approaches the port of Gytheio and sinks an Italian minelayer with torpedoes.
According to a British article, it was carrying depth charges and torpedoes, and 20 Italian officers and soldiers were killed on it.
5 Apr. 1943 – Sinks the Spanish/German 1,500-ton merchant steamship San Issidro (322 GRT) off Kythnos.
21 May – 4 June 1943 – Sixth war patrol (under Cdr Laskos). Aegean, 456 hours (186 subm./270 surf.).
Vasileios Laskos 29 May 1943 – Sinks the German freighter Rigel (552 GRT) near Skiathos.
2 June 1943 – Fires two torpedoes at the Italian cargo ship Versilia (591 GRT) off Karlovassi, but misses.
5 – 14 Sep. 1943 – Seventh war patrol (under Cdr Laskos). North Aegean, 212 hours (107 subm./105 surf.).
The mission is to patrol North Aegean and land commandos. The boat quickly shows its age, with main problem the failure of one engine.
Nevertheless, Laskos continues the war patrol.
8 Sep. 1943 – Katsonis receives the message for the Italian armistice.
11 Sep. 1943 – Lands the Greek commandos without incident.
12 Sep. 1943 – Intercepts two sail boats and Laskos finds out that a captured French ship, Simfra, is carrying German soldiers on leave.
13 – 14 Sep. 1943 – Charges its batteries and submerges to patrol the area between Pilio and Skiathos, looking for Simfra. Laskos spots a sail boat and decides to surface to try to get more information about Simfra.
While he is still talking probably to the boat’s skipper, what looks like Simfra is spotted in the horizon.
Katsonis soon receives optical identification signals from the ship, but it isn’t Simfra. It is the German subchaser UJ-2101.
Katsonis crash dives, but soon receives depth charges and is forced to resurface.
Laskos orders the crew to return fire with the cannon, and after the gunners are killed, he himself takes their place, but is soon killed too, and Katsonis sinks.
31 men of the crew, including the captain, as well as “Lafiro” went down with Katsonis:
15 were captured, while Lt. Tsoukalas and petty officers Tsingros swam for 9 hours to reach Skiathos and Antoniou to reach Pilio.
They later returned to the Middle East.
Y-1 Katsonis submarineDisplacement: Surfaced 576 tons, Submerged 775 tons
Length: 62.4 m
Beam: 5.3 m
Draft: 3.35 m
Propulsion: 2 × 2-cycle Schneider-Carels diesel 1,300hp, 2 × electric 1,000hp
Max. Dive: 73 m
Speed: (Surf.) 14 knots, (Subm.) 9.5 knots
Range: (Surf.) 3,500 nm @ 10 knots, (Subm.) 100 nm @ 5 knots
Armament: 6x 533mm torpedo tubes (2 internal bow, 2 external bow, 2 external stern; 7 torpedoes),1x 100mm cannon, 2x machine guns