VIDEO: Sunken Greek Boat Peltastis Goes from Tragedy to Attraction

Lauren Simmonds

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Have you ever heard about the Greek vessel Peltastis which sunk near Krk?

As Morski writes on the 9th of January, 2020, members of the Neptune Diving Centre from Silo, with the support of the Dobrinj Municipality Tourist Board and others, continued the tradition on Tuesday the 7th of January of commemorating the eight sailors killed during the sinking of the Greek ship Peltastis just off the coast of Krk.

The Greek ship Peltastis was built and launched at the Kremer Sohn shipyard in northern Germany in late 1952 in order to be handed over to its client early in 1953. It was an 874 tonne cargo vessel initially bearing the name Alsterpark after the name of its parent company P/R Alsterpark in Hamburg.

It was a motor boat which was just over sixty meters long, intended for coastal navigation. After fourteen years of service the ship changed owner, more specifically in 1967. The new owner was the Greek company CHR M. Sarlis & Co. from Piraeus, which changed the vessel’s name to Peltastis. But unfortunately the ship did not sail for long in the hands of its new owner, writes the Otok Krk portal.

On the night of January the 8th, 1968, one of the greatest maritime tragedies in the area of ​​Krk occurred. At 03:50 in the morning, the Peltastis ship sank about halfway between Silo and Klimno, taking down with it seven crewmen and Captain Theodoros Belesis. The day before, on the 7th of January, in the afternoon, the ship was loaded with wood and was sailing towards Rijeka. Captain Belesis heeded the port captain’s warning not to set sail due to a strong storm. Unfortunately, the Greek captain underestimated the strength of the storm, which started getting worse during the night with hurricane force winds.

Neither the ship’s engines nor the anchors thrown in the direction of the storm helped Peltastis in its attempt to protect itself from drifting towards a rugged and unforgiving shoreline. Peltastis met its fate and sank during the early hours of the morning. Seven crew members and a captain drowned, and four managed to survive the tragic incident with serious injuries.

The ceremony of laying a wreath for the seamen who went down with Peltastis began back in 2005 with the head of the Neptune Diving Centre, Boris Jelenović, who keeps some interesting documents on the premises of the centre, including a photograph of the body of the ship’s captain found after ten months.

”One can clearly see that this is a person and he was found by Austrian divers. Unfortunately, both the command bridge and the rest of the ship was messed around with by those very same divers. People like to take souvenirs, but today the situation is different. We, as well as other centres that visit the wreckage, are careful not to remove anything,” Jelenović told Croatian Radio Rijeka.

”As for the surviving crew, four of them survived but with serious injuries. They had to undergo amputations, and interestingly, none of them contact the people who rescued them later on, so we have no knowledge of their further fate. It’s probably too late for that now…” he added.

The laying of a wreath to commemorate the lives lost on board Peltastis has been going on for a while now, and the main message it provides, alongside respect for the dead, is that the sea must always be respected.

Today, Peltastis remains in relatively good condition, lying at a depth of eight to thirty metres, and is an attraction for many interested divers. The bow of Peltastis faces the coast of the popular island of Krk and the ship lies almost perpendicular to the direction of the shore. The top of the bow is at a depth of fifteen metres, while the deepest part of the boat lies at a depth of 33 meters. Due to its low level of depth, the wreck is ideal for all categories of divers to go and visit. Although souvenir hunters have sadly taken increasingly valuable items from the ship, the ship is exceptional in terms of its excellent preservation in spite of the passage of time.

Watch the video below!

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