Perseus: Today is the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the British submarine of the Second World War


On December 6, 1941, the submarine of the British navy “Perseus” (Royal Navy submarine “HMS / m Perseus”) sank off the southeastern tip of Kefalonia, from a collision with a landmine during surface patrol. In December 1997 the wreck was located and identified by a group of Greek divers led by Costas Thoktaridis, while the excellent historical research that revealed a wonderful story, was conducted by Rena Giatropoulou.

It is of great importance for the historical memory and absolutely impressive shipwreck of one of the largest submarines of the war, which rests on the bottom of the Ionian at a maximum depth of 52 meters, silent, almost intact (apart from the rupture from the explosion of a naval mine on the left side of the bow), sitting almost upright like the day he stood in the shipbuilding bed waiting to be led into the water. He emerges as a giant from the past on the light background of the seabed, holding in his bowels and now transporting to eternity his unfortunate crew as well as a Greek officer originating from the island next to which he will remain forever .. Only one survived from a total of 61 sailors: only one sailor, John Capes, managed to escape injured, after helping three other companions (who unfortunately could not survive). The only survivor was cared for and protected as a wounded man and as an ally, by a large number of Kefalonians for 18 whole months, risking their lives, those of their families and those of their fellow villagers.

Today, 80 years after the sinking (1941) and 24 years since its location (1997), “Perseus” is a time capsule of the turbulent period of the greatest war that humanity has faced, with a sad history of agony, pain and survival and courage. It is a reminder of the passions that all peoples suffer in times of war, struggle for life and survival, solidarity and self-sacrifice between people.

But it is also a world-class, relatively easily accessible (with the proper training and experience required by the specific depth and sea conditions in the area) shipwreck with exceptional diving interest. A visit to it reminds us of the danger that man faces, not only from the sea and other elements of nature, but also from man himself. But it also reminds us of the prevalence of life that always returns as the wreck – a wet grave for man, is today an artificial reef – cradle of marine life.

It is a monument from the past and a lesson for the future. 

Telemachus of Beriatos

PSS Scuba Instructor, PSS Technical Diver, 3 star CMAS Scuba Diver

Underwater Cultural Heritage

We must remember that shipwrecks that we visit in “recreational” diving are artificial reefs that support life on the seabed (as long as they are not a source of pollution). Especially those that come from hostilities in time of war but also accidents, are signs of human misery and pain and therefore historical monuments, so we must pay due respect. Respect for the environment and our next visitors extends beyond the victims to their relatives and compatriots on land. Shipwrecks are therefore first a refuge for endangered marine species and then a refuge for our memory. We must be aware that any alteration in ancient shipwrecks irreparably affects the historical information they carry, therefore special attention and information of the authorities is required in case of their detection. Ancient and generally historical shipwrecks are protected by national law but also by the International authorities for the protection of cultural heritage.

(republishing all or part of it is free but in any case the author must be mentioned)

Following are videos from shipwreck visits and archival material.

1. Video from the launch of “Perseus” in 1929 (archival material)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M1GjrzPyBU

2. Mission Blue Manta Diving Aquanautic Club (Skala, Kefalonia) – Telemachos Beriatos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfM08GHo_Qg&feature=youtu.be

3. Joint mission Pirate Divers Club (Lassi, Kefalonia) & Blue Manta Diving Aquanautic Club (Skala, Kefalonia)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYeBz7JML8k – George Sakellariou

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