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First British casualty of WWII - wreck of SS "Athenia" found

The wreck of the SS “Athenia”, the first ship lost by the British during World War II, was found near Ireland. The steamer, carrying 1,417 passengers, was attacked by a Kriegsmarine U-30 submarine on 3 September 1939. Exceptional luck combined with an efficient rescue operation saved most of the passengers. The SS “Athenia” departed from
Published: October 14, 2017 - 11:11
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 15:44
First British casualty of WWII – wreck of SS “Athenia” found

The wreck of the SS “Athenia”, the first ship lost by the British during World War II, was found near Ireland. The steamer, carrying 1,417 passengers, was attacked by a Kriegsmarine U-30 submarine on 3 September 1939. Exceptional luck combined with an efficient rescue operation saved most of the passengers.

The SS “Athenia” departed from the British Isles and, sailing towards Canada, was attacked on the night of 3 September 1939. Fortunately she was only hit by one of three torpedoes. This resulted in damage, which sent the vessel to the bottom, but gave time to evacuate people. The ship sank all night until 11:00 the next day. The German attack resulted in the loss of 118 lives.

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ssathenia2

The ship became the first British casualty of World War II, sunk just an hour after Britain declared war on Germany.

The wreck was found while mapping the seabed at a depth of almost 200 metres. This was done by David Mearns and his team, who are professionally involved in the search for wrecks.

[blockquote style=”2″]”I can’t put my hand on the Bible and say it’s 100% SS Athenia, but given all my experience I know it’s very, very likely. In my opinion it’s 98% that wreck,” Mearns said[/blockquote].

The SS “Athenia” was built in 1922, commissioned by Anchor-Donaldson Ltd in the Scottish shipyard of Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in Govan. The vessel measured over 160 metres long and over 20 metres wide. Six steam turbines with Brown- Curtis gearboxes put the two screws in motion, allowing a top speed of 15-15.5 knots.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

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Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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