The Key Largo-based Aurora Trust, a not-for-profit ocean exploration and education foundation, has solved a World War II British mystery.
On May 8, 1942, under the cover of darkness, the British submarine HMS Olympus (N35) was attempting to leave the British Naval Base in the Grand Harbor of Malta, a small island nation blockaded by the Germans and Italians.
But the Olympus didn’t get far before striking a mine and sinking.
For nearly 70 years, nobody knew exactly where the 283-foot sub’s final resting spot was in the Mediterranean Sea. Only nine of the 98 men aboard survived, swimming about seven miles in cold water and without lights to guide them due to the wartime blackout.
A year ago, the marine archaeology survey team from the Aurora Trust discovered the sub using side scan sonar. But at the time, they weren’t sure exactly what the image showed. The team, which operates from Malta, returned a few months later with deep-sea robotic vehicles to videotape the wreck — twice as deep as recreational divers can go.
“Sure enough, there was a submarine, sitting on the bottom, with the propeller intact and the hatch open,” said Ian Koblick, who co-founded the trust with fellow ocean explorer Craig Mullen in 2003. “We were pretty sure it was the Olympus because of the configuration of the [eight bow] torpedo tubes, the location and the fact that it was armed.”
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