A pretty cool expedition is underway in the waters of Lošinj these days
The divers of the Croatian Special Police unit are currently examining and filming the Austro-Hungarian navy ship SMS Szent Istvan that was sunk on June 10, 1918 near Premuda island.
The international diving expedition ‘Szent Istvan 2017’ is taking place until June 17 in the Diving Centre of the Special Police unit of the Ministry of the Interior in Mali Lošinj. Organised by the Croatian Restoration Institute, the expedition is meant to inspect the ship, document its state on video, and then remove the fishnets that have stuck to the vessel in recent decades.
Szent Istvan (St. Stephen in Hungarian) was launched in January 1914 and spent the majority of the WWI period at anchor in Pula. In 1918, on June 9, she sailed for an attack on the Otranto Barrage but was almost instantly torpedoed by two Italian MAS, followed by capsizing and sinking a couple of hours later. She’s currently to be found upside down at a depth of 66 metres.
Szent Istvan is the largest navy ship ever to be sunk on the Adriatic. It’s 153m long and 28m wide, and mounted twelve guns in four triple turrets.
Twenty years ago, the divers of the Special Police Unit have retrieved the letters that used to spell the name of the ship, now on display in the Maritime Museum in Pula. The Croatian Ministry of Culture declared Szent Istvan a protected site. She’s the only navy ship used in WWI whose sinking has been caught on camera, and it’s worth taking a look at the footage: