The celebrated Greek underwater explorer Kostas Thoctarides announced in January that he and his team have discovered the wreck of the Italian submarine Jantina, sunk by the Royal Navy during World War II.
The wreck lies in the Aegean south of Mykonos at a depth of 338 feet. In addition to the general interest that any historic shipwreck discovery attracts, the Jantina find is particularly noteworthy, in that it tells the story of an unusual submarine-on-submarine face-off.
On the afternoon of 5 July 1941, the Jantina surfaced while heading west. Meanwhile, the British submarine HMS Torbay was conducting her third offensive patrol in the Aegean and was at periscope depth when she sighted the Jantina. Alarm sounding, the Torbay took up an attack position. At 2016, she launched torpedoes from a distance of 1,500 yards.
The first two torpedoes passed in front of the target. The next ones found their mark, and with a powerful explosion, the Jantina sank rapidly. Six of the 48-man crew managed to survive, swimming to the island of Delos.
The submarine was located by the remotely operated vehicle Super Achilles. The submarine’s turret and 4-inch deck gun are plainly visible. The periscopes are lowered and the manhole of the turret is open. Part of the bow has been cut off from the rest of the submarine.
“Naval history is like a puzzle,” Thoctarides told Reuters, “and this is part of that puzzle. The confrontation of two submarines is a rare naval event.”
The shipwreck and the surrounding area are being treated as a war grave.