H.P. Lovecraft, "The White Ship"
The wreck of the 816 grt cargo steamship Christoforos was located back in the early 1970s in the course of an archaeological survey. Nonetheless, until recently its identity remained unknown. Using information contained in the published survey report, George Karelas managed to locate the wreck for a second time and our research started with a first joint dive in the summer of 2007. Finally the wreck was identified following a series of dives in July 2011 and our communication with maritime history researcher Aris Bilalis who managed to trace the relevant sources documenting the ship's loss in the vicinity of the wreck site.
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.
Exploration on the wreck of what proved to belong to the S/S Christoforos started by our diving a shallow wreck - approximately in 54 meters of water close to the islet of Oxia. It was located in the early 1970s during an archaeological survey that took place in the area and related to the battle of Lepanto (1571). Since a modern ship obviously fell outside the scope of that work, no further research regarding her was carried out and her identity remained unknown. Using information in an article published by professor H. Edgerton, George Karelas managed to locate the wreck for a second time and the first dive was done in July of 2007. Field and documentary research did not produce any conclusive results however. In 2011 after maritime history researcher Aris Bilalis gave us access to his documentary findings we made two final dives and were able to positively identify the wreck as belonging to the Christoforos.
Briefly summarizing our findings so far, the ship was built in 1889 by 'H. Koch' in Lübeck, Germany. She was originally registered in Flensburg under the name Kollund and owned by 'Dampfschiffahrts Gesellschaft Globus'. She was of steel construction, measured 60 meters over all and had a triple expansion steam engine of 100 HP. Initially her registered tonnages are recorded as 856 gross, 602 under deck and 536 net. In 1900 she appears as the Alide, belonging to 'Noord Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Maats' with port of registry Harlingen, The Netherlands. Her tonnages are now 832 gross, 602 under deck and 510 net. Her registered length had also changed to 59.03 meters1. In October 1911 she was purchased by A. Yannoulatos and registered in Patras. Shares of her, or the whole ship were sold on several times. She was also re-registered in Piraeus from 1915 and until the time of her loss in 13 January 1921 when she was owned by 'Industrial Enterprises Co'2.Christoforos foundered in heavy weather whilst on a ballast passage from Sulina to Corfu.
The wreck lies upright, in rather shallow waters - at just 55 meters - and in a general NE-SW direction. Least depth above her is about 48 meters. Visibility was rather bad during all the dives we made, severely deteriorating closer to the silty bottom. One such area is the ship's bow, now cut off and collapsed forward of what we believe to be the second cargo hold hatch. We are not sure whether this was a result of the sinking or is due to post-depositional factors such as bottom trawling or fishing with explosives; we were surprised to find a 5 x 1 meters steel plate which we perceive to be a piece of bulwark in a place it definitively did not exist a couple of years ago.
On conclusion, although we consider the wreck not to be of any particular importance, it is still an ongoing project as there are certain aspects that remain to be researched - as for example the ship's voyages - in order to have her complete history. In addition to that, few parts of the wreck remain unexplored.
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