After a 25-year search, the mysterious disappearance of British WWII submarine H.M.S. TRIUMPH is coming to light after it was found more than 650 feet below the blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Thoctarides said the vessel was initially detected with a simple sonar through the help of his daughter.
"The wreck site is treated with respect as it is a wet grave of 64 people," said Thoctarides of the seven officers, 55 crew members and two commandos onboard. TRIUMPH was lost in the blue waters of the Aegean on Jan. 9, 1942. It began its operations in May 1939. It carried out 20 combat patrols and saw significant successes during its operation, sinking several enemy ships and the Italian submarine SALPA.
Triumph now rests at the bottom of the open sea at a slight right tilt, The vessel's lowered visors and closed manholes testify that TRIUMPH was on a deep dive at the time of its sinking, according to Thoctarides. Depth and direction pedals were also found straight, indicating they were at a steady depth.
"In its tower, you can see the wooden steering wheel, compass, and 4-inch cannon that is slightly raised upwards," Thoctarides said. "The visible manholes in the cannon area leading inside the hull are also closed." Excitement came when the plug of the right torpedo was found opened with a torpedo halfway out of the submarine.
Thoctarides was first informed about the history of Triumph in 1998. After an extensive survey in the U.K. and a search of German and Italian archives, he began the mission. It was the fifth submarine wreck Thoctarides and his underwater project company, ROV Services, has found in Greek waters.
Last patrol in Greece
Triumph departed from Alexandria, Egypt, for its final mission the day after Christmas 1941. The purpose of the mission was to carry out two special operations as well as conduct an aggressive patrol in a specific area of the Aegean assigned to it by British officials. On the evening of Dec. 29, Triumph sailed into Despotikos Bay, Greece, before heading out on its last patrol. The following day, the submarine reported an encrypted signal indicating the successful completion of the first phase of its last mission, according to Thoctarides.
On Jan. 9, 1942, at 11:45 a.m., Triumph began its torpedo attack of an enemy ship south of Sounion, Greece. "Recently, in the same underwater area, we identified three more British Mark VIII torpedoes of the same type with those carried by Triumph and even within range of the attack," Thoctarides said. "This fact leads us to believe that the Triumph fired more than one torpedo during its latest assault." After the attack, TRIUMPH then continued its patrol, making its presence felt in Milos and Naxos, Greece.
Traces of TRIUMPH will soon begin to disappear, according to reports. On Jan. 23, 1942, the British Navy sent a naval signal indicating TRIUMPH should be considered pardoned after patrolling the Aegean.