The Greek submarine “Katsonis” and the “Quinto” shipwreck, December 31st, 1940

Interviews, Shipwrecks, WW2

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos and videos by Djordje Kovjanic, used by permission


Tuesday December 31st, 1940: The Greek submarine Y1 “Katsonis” is on her 7th patrol day in the Adriatic Sea, on a mission to locate and sink enemy shipping. Greece is at war with Italy, since the Italian invasion, which started in the early hours of October 28th, 1940.


“Weather conditions are very bad. We are at periscope depth, looking for any ships approaching. At 08:20 hrs. we locate the silhouette of a tanker ship. Battle stations everyone, attack initiated!” 


This is how the report of the submarine’s captain starts.


“We launch two torpedoes but failed to hit the ship; we immediately surface and continue our attack with the submarine’s deck gun. The tanker’s crew immediately abandon ship, once the first shell is fired.


“We continue our attack from a distance of approximately 500 metres and the ship blows up in flames. It starts drifting towards the coast and is sinking. We could see the Italian flag on this tanker ship, a fleet auxiliary one”. 

Scuba divers Djordje Kovjanic and Vuk Vukovljak known as Orcatorch Team, made this historical video of the Italian tanker ship “Quinto”, sunk by the Greek submarine “Katsonis” 




Mr. Djordje Kovjanic explains to 

“Our activities are not based just on filming the wreck. We make video documentation, photo documentation, and archival research. Research is based on historical data, on fishermen and witnesses accounts.

Modern technology, such as Side Scan Sonars, enabled us to observe the contours of the ship from the surface. The condition of the wreck, when we had our first dives in the early 1990s, was very good.”


The ship was lying on its left side, and divers can swim through. Divers could take photos swimming through the cargo hold of the ship.


The engine room was  accessible and entrance was possible, but always with precaution. Inside the engine room we found some human remains, which clearly shows that some of the crew never managed to abandon ship.


Nowadays, after more than 25 years since we first explored the wreck in the early 1990s, it is in a completely different condition.

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The right half of the ship has deteriorated to such an extent that we cannot explore it anymore. The propeller is still raised above the seabed, with a diameter of around 3 metres.


The machine compartment is still accessible. The engines with their parts are visible, and the crankshafts and pistons are all there.

The central part of the cargo space is now devastated.


I can still remember when we could freely dive through the wreck. We always expected something extraordinary while we explored the Quinto.


But I can only say that, even after so many dives, we didn’t find anything interesting in the cargo hold, just barrels of oil. Most of the barrels are scattered at the seabed, when the boat was overturned.


The bow anchor,  is still in its position. A bow chain is also visible. On the right side of the boat, there is obvious damage.

All video on Quinto, will be produced by  Orcatorch Team, in a film that talks about the absurdity of warfare.


Why? Because just after a few years, the submarine “Katsonis”, which destroyed Quinto, was sunk and many of her crew drowned. This shows that war is evil and many men die”

SS QUINTO (source:


nationality: italian
purpose: transport
type: tanker
subtype/class: coastal cargo ship class
propulsion: steam
date built: 1922
tonnage: 531  grt
dimensions: 57.6 x 8 x 3.1 m
material: steel
engine: 3-cyl. triple expansion engine, single shaft, 1 screw
armament: 2 x guns
power: 50
call sign:
about the loss
cause lost: gunfire – shelled
date lost: 31/12/1940 [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties:  max.10
about people
Muller Gebr.Foxhol (Groningen)
engine by:
Van der Kuy & Van der Ree
last owner:
[1] Soc. Anon. Agricola Industriale per la Produzione Italiana Cellulosa (SAICI)Genoa
SS Quinto (+1940)
period 1940 ~ 1940
call sign:
prev. owners:
[2] Silane SegherieGenoa
SS Quinto
period 1938 ~ 1940
call sign:
[3] Bruno de FerrariGenoa
SS Quinto
period 1933 ~ 1938
call sign:
[4] Peters Aug. E.Hamburg
SS Fleiss
period 1925 ~ 1933
about the wreck
depth (m.): 32 max. / — min. (m)

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