Turkey opens underwater park with submerged WWI ships
Memories of the First World War lie beneath the waters of Gallipoli. After a long wait, divers will be able to access the area from October 2, 2021.
Canakkale, a Turkish town in the Marmara region, was the battleground for the Gallipoli campaign during WWI. During the campaign, the Allied Powers fought and lost to the Ottoman Empire, with several ships sinking in the Dardanelles, also known as the Strait of Gallipoli.
Until recently, the area was a no-go zone guarded by the Turkish military as it was still littered with explosives left over from the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. In 2017, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism received a mandate to manage the place. . Since 2018, the ministry’s Gallipoli Historic Site Directorate has been working to detect, document and remove explosives in order to transform the area into a safe underwater park.
The area was once reserved for divers with special permits such as military personnel or researchers. Now that the explosives that posed a threat have been deactivated and removed, divers will be welcomed at the Gallipoli Historical Underwater Park in Canakkale from October 2, 2021.
Twelve submerged vessels will be open for diving activities, as well as the Bebek Rocks where divers can observe coral reefs and marine life.
There are currently 16 large ships and submarines in the Gallipoli Underwater Park area, two of which will be among the 12 vessels open for diving. These are the UK’s HMS Majestic (1895), the largest of the Royal Navy’s nine pre-dreadnought battleships that was sunk by a submarine, and HMS Louis (1913), a class destroyer. L of the Royal Navy. which was sunk by Ottoman artillery.
The most eye-catching ship, HMS Majestic, sits at the bottom of the sea near Cape Helles, or Seddulbahir. It had sunk with the loss of 49 marines. Efforts to make the sunken vessel available for diving activities began on September 1, 2019.
The other fourteen large ships include the HMS Ocean (1898) and the HMS Irresistible (1898) of the Royal Navy. The process of documenting the fourteen large vessels, as well as other smaller vessels, continues. It is not yet clear what additional vessels will be available for diving activities. According to the Direction of the historic site of Gallipoli, there are also several undetected submerged ships.
The 10 submerged ships that will accommodate divers with HMS Majestic and HMS Louis include a minesweeper called Lundy that sank in the 1930s, an asphalt freighter called Franco that sank in the 1960s, and several ships lighter.
The art history expert of the Gallipoli Historic Site Directorate, Yusuf Kartal, was amazed by the diving experience. “It’s a different world,” he told TRT World. “You dive in and suddenly you’re back in 1915. You see the submerged ship as it was 106 years ago and experience the chaos of war secondhand.”
“The ships bring you back to the moment they sank. You witness the damage that brought down colossal ships like HMS Majestic. “
For this project which covered 150 square kilometers, the seabed was mapped, anomalies on the seabed as well as flora, fauna and geographical formations were detected, and information on the sea such as tides, salinity , the temperature and the amount of oxygen were collected. The submerged vessels were identified by divers and three-dimensional models of each vessel were prepared. Movable cultural property has been removed from ships to be properly preserved.
The project was led by the Gallipoli Historic Site Directorate and funded by the South Marmara Development Agency. The TUBITAK Marmara Research Center led the field research with the Istanbul University Scientific Council.
The dives will take place under the guidance of professional guides certified by the Turkish Underwater Sports Federation. The historic Gallipoli Underwater Park is suitable for divers of all levels and people will also have the opportunity to undergo diving training. There are diving spots at all levels, with boats submerged from 3 meters to 350 meters underwater. The park will cooperate with the coast guard for the safety of the divers.
“The Gallipoli region of Canakkale is a very precious place in the history of the world. Those who want to understand the Gallipoli campaign will now have the chance to see the war from a new perspective, ”said Kartal.
The Dardanelles have a story to tell that will complement our understanding of war.
Source: TRT World