H.P. Lovecraft, "The White Ship"
The wreck of the HMS Chamois, a 1897 British Torpedo Boat Destroyer (TBD) was located after a great deal of effort from the side of George Karelas. Being an early built of a type that changed naval warfare, she is a valuable find of great archaeological ineterest. In addition, it is perhaps the only shipwreck of its kind in Greek waters.
Elaborating on the Patraikos project, during the summer of 2006 we were invited to start a joint long-term project with wreck enthusiast and researcher George Karelas. The objective is to work on a number of wrecks in the Gulf of Patras and near by waters. Despite the fact that the project has since been pulled back by various unforeseen circumstances, a number of targets have been prioritized and dived up to this day. Everybody's aim is to continue with their exploration in a more intensive way in the near future.
The wreck of the Chamois is an invaluable link to the beginning of an evolutionary process that would transform centuries of naval warfare culminating to what has been refered to as the 'eclipse of the big gun', that is the gradual abandonment of heavy surface units in favour of smaller, lighter ones (and submarines).
Research done so far permits us to present a resume of the ship's life. Chamois was ordered at 'Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Co Ltd' of Jarrow and was the fourth in a batch of six boats under the 30-knotters 1985-86 programme. Her yard No was 713, her keel was laid in 28 May 1896, she was launched in 09 November of the same year and she was completed in November 1897. These ships measured 67 meters overall, and displaced 390 tons light or 440 tons at full load. Their propulsion plants were all about power and speed. Chamois had four Reed boilers working at 250lbs and twin triple expansion engines producing 6200 IHP and driving two screw propellers. As a rule, 30-knotters were equiped with one 12 pounder 12 cwt gun forward, five 6 pounders (one of which was mounted aft) and two 18in torpedo tubes with two torpedoes. In what regards her service, the boat was sent to the Meditteranean in 1901 and remained there until she foundered in the Gulf of Patras when a propeller blade broke off and as a result her hull was torn off.
With regards to diving the wreck, it lies in approximately 55 meters of water and is in generally sound condition. Visibility is a big issue as it will rarely get better than a few meters. In addition, her hull is buried in silt up to almost her decks. Though the wreck has been visited by many divers, meaningful field research is almost non existant. HMS Chamois is an open project for our joint team and will continue hopefully within 2014.
Team members in these dives:
Bibliography and Sources: