Posted by: Byron E. Riginos | 27 September, 2008

Day 7 > 27.9.08

Το έμβλημα της παραγγελιοδόχου εταιρείας Norddeutscher Lloyd με έδρα την Βρέμη. The emblem of the Bremen company Norddeutscher Lloyd.

Η σημερινή ημέρα άρχισε με δυνατό άνεμο που όσο περνούσε η ώρα όλο και δυνάμωνε. Ήδη γνωρίζαμε από το δελτίο καιρού ότι θα είχαμε άσχημες καιρικές συνθήκες για το σαββατοκύριακο και είχαμε προετοιμαστεί ψυχολογικά για το ότι κατά πάσα πιθανότητα δεν θα καταδυόμασταν. Το γεγονός επίσης ότι την Κυριακή η ομάδα του K.D.E. θα πάρει μέρος στον καθαρισμό βυθού της περιοχής Βουρκαρίου της Κέας, μας αφαιρούσε μια ακόμα ημέρα από τις προγραμματισμένες καταδύσεις μας.

Πράγματι γύρω στο μεσημέρι οι καιρικές συνθήκες ήταν τόσο άσχημες ώστε πήραμε την απόφαση να μην καταδυθούμε. Στην συνέχεια, αφ΄ ότου πληροφορηθήκαμε και το δελτίο καιρού της Δευτέρας το οποίο προέβλεπε ανέμους μέχρι και πέντε Beaufort, αποφασίσαμε να τελειώσουμε την αποστολή σήμερα. Οι λόγοι, πέρα από τις καιρικές συνθήκες, ήταν αφ΄ ενός ότι ορισμένα από τα μέλη της αποστολής έπρεπε να επιστρέψουν στην βάση τους, αφ΄ ετέρου η γνώση ότι μια επιπλέον κατάδυση, αυτή της Τρίτης, δεν θα κάλυπτε τα αναπάντητα ερωτήματα σε σχέση με την έρευνα του ναυαγίου. Έτσι αποφασίσαμε να κλείσουμε το πρώτο μέρος του K.D.E. σήμερα και να επανέλθουμε τον Μάιο του 2009 με μια καινούργια αποστολή η οποία θα φέρει τον προγραμματικό τίτλο, S/S Burdigala Project.

Σκοπός της αποστολής αυτής θα είναι η περαιτέρω έρευνα του ναυαγίου, η διείσδυση σε επιλεγμένα τμήματα του πλοίου, η έρευνα του βυθού γύρω από το ναυάγιο, καθώς και η προσπάθεια χαρτογράφησης του. Λαμβάνοντας υπ΄ όψιν το μέγεθος του πλοίου, γνωρίζουμε ότι ίσως και η καινούργια αποστολή να μην μπορέσει να τεκμηριώσει όλες τις πτυχές του αντικειμένου, υλικές και ιστορικές, πιστεύουμε όμως ότι η προσπάθεια αρκεί. Επίσης έχουμε σκοπό να ερευνήσουμε και να ταυτοποιήσουμε το άγνωστο αεροπλάνο που βρίσκεται κοντά στην πλώρη του ναυαγίου.

Είμαστε της γνώμης ότι όλα τα ναυάγια, ιδιαίτερα τα ιστορικά, ανήκουν σε όλους, και ότι ναυάγια σαν το S/S Burdigala, των οποίων το μέγεθος και ο όγκος τα καθιστούν ιδιαίτερα περίπλοκα, όσον αφορά την έρευνα από μια ομάδα δυτών, θα πρέπει να ερευνούνται από περισσότερες ομάδες οι οποίες συνεργάζονται αναμεταξύ τους. Σαν δείγμα καλής θέλησης και συνεργασίες παραθέτουμε το στίγμα του ναυαγίου για όσους θα ήθελαν να το καταδυθούν. Τους παρακαλούμε μόνο για δυο πράγματα, να το σεβαστούν και να μας πληροφορήσουν για τυχών νέα στοιχεία που υπάρχει ενδεχόμενο να προκύψουν από τις έρευνες τους.

Επίσης θα θέλαμε να προσθέσουμε ότι οι καταδύσεις στο S/S Burdigala είναι δύσκολες καθώς τα ρεύματα είναι πάρα πολύ δυνατά και το ναυάγιο βρίσκεται ακριβώς επάνω στην πορεία των πλοίων της γραμμής Λαυρίου – Κέας. Γνωρίζουμε εξ ιδίας πείρας πόσο επικίνδυνο μπορεί να είναι ένα πλοίο καθώς κατευθύνεται επάνω σου, την στιγμή που βρίσκονται δύτες στο νερό, ιδιαίτερα στην αποσυμπίεση.

Σας ευχαριστούμε

Η ομάδα του K.D.E.

S/S Burdigala πρώην S/S Kaiser Friedrich

Πλώρη
37 μοίρες 40.043΄ Βόρειο πλάτος
24 μοίρες 17.384΄ Ανατολικό μήκος

Πρύμνη
37 μοίρες 39.999΄ Βόρειο πλάτος
24 μοίρες 17.275΄ Ανατολικό μήκος

Datum: WGS84

———————————-

The day began with a strong wind and as time passed it became gradually stronger. We already knew from the forecast that we would encounter bad weather for the weekend; therefore, we were psychologically prepared that probably we would not dive. The fact that on Sunday 28th September the K.D.E. team will participate in the voluntary cleaning of the bottom of Vourkari’s picturesque inner harbor, we eliminated one more day of diving from our initial plans.

Indeed around noon the weather was so bad that we took the decision to call off any diving activity.  In addition, the forecast for Monday indicated winds up to five Beaufort, so we decided to conclude the K.D.E. task today. The reasons, besides the weather, was on the one hand that some of the members of the team had to return to base, while on the other hand, knowledge that a further dive, this coming Tuesday, would not cover the unanswered questions in relation to the investigation of the wreck. So we decided to close the first part of the K.D.E. today and schedule to return to Kea in May of 2009 with a new mission which may bear a title, “The S/S Burdigala Project”.

Right beneath this surface, the S/S Burdigala sleeps accompanied by rich aquatic life

Στο σημείο αυτό, κάτω από την επιφάνεια, το S/S Burdigala αναπαύεται πλαισιωμένο από πλούσια ενάλια ζωή, αναμένοντας να ακουστεί η ιστορία του από τα βάθη όπου βρίσκεται. Right beneath this surface, the S/S Burdigala sleeps accompanied by rich aquatic life as she awaits for her story to emerge from the depths and be told to the world.

The purpose of the new mission will be to further investigate the huge wreck, the penetration in selected parts of the ship, the investigation of the seabed around the wreck and the mapping effort.  Taking into account the size of the ship, we know that perhaps the new mission may not be able to substantiate all aspects of the subject and its historical material, but we believe that enough effort will help. We will also investigate and identify the unknown aircraft near the bow of the wreck.

We believe that all the shipwrecks, especially historic ones, belong to everyone and that wrecks like the S / S Burdigala, whose size and volume make them particularly complex in terms of research by a team of divers, should be explored by several groups which cooperate among themselves. As a sign of good will and cooperation we publicize the position of the wreck for those who would like to dive it.  But we only ask them only for two things, to respect it and to inform us about any new evidence which is likely to result from their own investigations.

Also we would like to add that diving in the S/S Burdigala is difficult because the currents are very strong and the wreck is exactly on the path of the ferry line between the ports of Lavrion and Kea.  We know from our own experience how dangerous this can be, to have a ship aiming directly to the dive boat, when divers are located in the water, especially during decompression stages.

Thank you

The K.D.E. team.

S/S Burdigala (ex S/S Kaiser Friedrich) coordinates:

Bow  section

Latitude 37.40.043 North
Longitude 24.17.384 East

Stern section

Latitude 37.39.999 North
Longitude 24.17.275 East

Datum: WGS84


Responses

  1. Dear Madam/Sir,

    Congratulations to you and your team on this truly titanic find!! When exactly did you establish that it is the Burdigala? When did you first locate her?

    I could have told you that this vessel is the Burdigala from the outset! I began researching this ship as far back as 1995. A friend in the U.S.A. took part in an expedition to the Britannic that year led by Dr Ballard and I suggested to him that he go ‘a bit out of his way’ to locate the Burdigala. I felt she HAD to be nearby since she fell victim to the same U-boat that would sink the Britannic exactly one week later. Obviously, my suggestion was ignored.

    I also referred to the Burdigala in my update of the book ‘Titanic and the Californian’ (Tempus, 2007). She was a beautiful ship!

    Hopefully, Ken Marschall will render her as she looks today in his breath-taking artwork….

    Sincerely,

    Rob Kamps
    The Netherlands

  2. Dear Rob,

    Thanks for your commentary and interest in S/S Burdigala.

    We identified the shipwreck after the 3rd dive.

    The cause of sinking is still open.
    As you may be aware, the Britannic is now 99% certain that was struck by a mine laid by the U-73.

    As concerns the Burdigala, there are a number of reports originating from the French side and those similarly published by the Greek newspapers at the time, pertaining to cannon rounds fired at an unknown submarine, moments before her sinking, as ordered by the Captain.

    Official records of the German Navy indicate that the U-73 had already withdrawn from the Aegean at the date of sinking. Thus Burdigala could not have been torpedoed by the U-73.

    Therefore, there are two options: either she was torpedoed by an unknown sub, or was struck by a mine of the same minefield laid by U-73 a week or so earlier.

    This question will be answered probably by our next dive mission, scheduled for late May 2009.

    We would be interested to read your book!
    At least, kindly copy & paste the reference made on Burdigala.

    All the best,
    Byron

  3. Hello Byron,

    In haste!

    Did you know of the existence of this ‘unknown wreck’ before or did you find her by chance? It is odd that she was not detected by the sonar while attempts were first made by Jacques Cousteau in 1975.

    How far exactly is she from the Britannic?

    Do you know the exact lay of the mine field in November 1916?

    I first researched this vessel in 1983 and contacted Simon Mills, the present owner of the Britannic, whether Burdigala had ever been discovered. He replied in the negative.

    The vessel’s tragic life has always intrigued me!

    The cannon rounds supposedly fired at an unknown sub may have been in response to the mine explosion. Perhaps her officers thought she had been torpedoed and fired at an unknown submarine. Where did she strike?

    If it was a mine, then remains of an anchor chain might still be there…..

    Was the breakup caused by the explosion or by stress on an uneven bottom?

    Is it correct that about 500 lives were lost?

    Kind regards,

    Rob

  4. Dear Rob,

    Please find the relevant answers and commentary to your additional questions below:

    “Did you know of the existence of this ‘unknown wreck’ before or did you find her by chance?”

    Please refer to our text about Dr. Papatheodorou – who was doing geophysical bottom survey work using side scan sonar during November 2007 – hence by chance.

    “It is odd that she was not detected by the sonar while attempts were first made by Jacques Cousteau in 1975.”

    The wreck is not far from the entrance of the St. Nikolaos bay – Jacques Yves Cousteau followed the classical route in the so called “Keos Channel”.

    “How far exactly is she from the Britannic?”

    Less than two marine miles.

    “Do you know the exact lay of the mine field in November 1916?”

    Yes, we have a plan made by the commander of the U-73, Kapitaenleutnant Gustav Siess.

    “I first researched this vessel in 1983 and contacted Simon Mills, the present owner of the Britannic, whether Burdigala had ever been discovered. He replied in the negative.”

    This is correct. No one (to the best of our knowledge) was aware of the position of the Burdigala shipwreck. We stay in contact and close cooperation with Simon. He is very interested indeed in our investigations.

    “The vessel’s tragic life has always intrigued me!”

    Are you informed regarding the past history of the vessel as the S/S Kaiser Friedrich?

    “The cannon rounds supposedly fired at an unknown sub may have been in response to the mine explosion. Perhaps her officers thought she had been torpedoed and fired at an unknown submarine. Where did she strike?”

    Yes perhaps! We do not know as yet. This is going to be one of the main goals for the next field research by our team as mentioned already. The strike is amidships.

    “If it was a mine, then remains of an anchor chain might still be there…”

    Yes, this is correct…but with some optimism. The vessel had momentum and did not sink immediately. Thus finding remnants of anchor chain from a mine in a wide bottom circumference after 92 years, well is quite difficult, but the element of luck is always there!

    “Was the breakup caused by the explosion or by stress on an uneven bottom?”

    We do not know yet but it could have been caused also by an explosion of some of the boilers, the vessel had ten of them.

    “Is it correct that about 500 lives were lost?”

    No, just only one crew, in the boiler area. The ship was heading empty from Thessaloniki to Toulon. There were approx. 500 crew on board according to some reports.

    By the way, please send me your correct e-mail address at: byron@keawest.gr and do provide us with your references or any additional info on Burdigala as already requested.

    Finally, should you like to have some vacations in Kea next spring, let us know 🙂

    All the best,
    Byron

  5. Hello Byron,

    Apologies for my apparently silly questions concerning the exact date of Burdigala’s find and her whereabouts. I could have known that the information was readily available! It has been a very busy week and I was not in a position to read everything. I am now in the process of reading up!

    It is amazing that Burdigala was found upright. Considering her length of just over 180 meters at this relatively shallow depth of 50/70 meters, you’d expect that she pivoted on her bows as the Britannic did and then landed on her starboard or port side. If she nose-dived, you’d expect to see evidence of that on her prow.

    Since she apparently struck the mine amidships and a boiler explosion likely contributed in the sinking, she either broke apart while still on the surface or did so while settling on the bottom. I read that part of her rests at a depth of 50 meters, while another section lies another 20 meters deeper. This would suggest an uneven bottom. Needless to say, not a single ship, however solidly built, cannot but succumb to such extreme stresses on her hull. Even if Burdigala reached the bottom intact, metal fatigue would have set in over the years. We have the wreck of the Lusitania to go by….

    It is stated that her masts fell off to the starboard side and that their remains are still there. Is there any evidence of her three majestic funnels? I cannot see any evidence of them in the picture, but I assume they fell off and landed in the vicinity. Since the remains of Britannic’s four funnels are still near the main wreckage, I presume that Burdigala’s are still there as well. How is the condition of her decks? Did they collapse?

    I did not contact Simon Mills directly as I did not have his email address. I contacted him through Ed Kamuda of the Titanic Historical Society in 2006 and Simon replied that Burdigala had not been discovered. Regrettably, I lost that email during a computer crash, but I seem to recall that Simon said that Burdigala sank in a completely different area than the Britannic.

    The friend that I contacted in the U.S.A. in 1995 and who took part in the Britannic expedition is leading Lusitania-expert and writer Eric Sauder (www.northatlanticrun.com). Obviously, my suggestion to pinpoint the Burdigala came after the Britannic-expedition had been well-planned and there was no room left for alterations. It is striking, though, that Ballard and his team attempted to locate the anchor chain of the mine that sank the Britannic. It would have been extraordinary if they detected the Burdigala on the way.

    Yes, I am familiar with the ship’s tragic history as the Kaiser Friedrich. The transcriptions of the legal battles following refusal of North German Lloyd to take her over from her builders should still be available at the Schiffahrt Museum at Bremerhaven in Germany. Obviously, Dr Arnold Kludas (1929), the leading authority on German liners (I have several books by him), could tell you far more about the ship’s tragic history.

    Further information could be obtained at the Steamship Historical Association. The book ‘Flagships of the Line’ by Milton H. Watson (Patrick Stephens, Ltd., 1988; ISBN 0-85059-931-8) discusses her in detail and has a picture of the Kaiser Friedrich coaling at Pier 1, in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1898 (the photograph is owned by Albert E. Gayer, SSHSA Collection). Another picture shows KF laid up in the backwaters of Hamburg. It is owned by Hapag Lloyd AG

    It is stated that Burdigala “sailed from Salonica on 13 November 1916 with Lieutenant-Commander Rolland in command. At 10.45 the next morning, two miles south-south-west of St Nicolo in the Agean, she was rocked by an explosion. It was a mine laid by German U-boat U-73. The sea flooded the engine and boiler rooms. Rolland gave the order to abandon ship. 35 minutes after hitting the mine, Burdigala disappeared beneath the sea, a sad end for a sorry ship.”

    Britannic-expert Jim Kalafus has a photograph of KF”s dining salon. He sent me a scan two years ago, but I sorely regret it was lost during my computer crash….

    Arnold Kludas describes the ship in volume 2 of his 5-part series ‘Die Geschichte der deutschen Passagierschiffahrt’ (Kabel Verlag, 1987, ISBN 3-8225-0036-0).

    My reference to the KF/Burdigala in the book ‘Titanic and the Californian’ (Tempus, 2007, ISBN 978 0 7524 4278 5), which I edited and updated for Thomas B. Williams reads as follows.

    “Kaiser Friedrich remained laid up at Hamburg from October 1900 until mid-1912. She was bought in May of that year by the Cie. de Navigation Sud Atlantique. Reboilered and renamed Burdigala, she entered the South Atlantic service, but was rejected again in 1913. Requisitioned by the French Navy in 1915, she was converted into a troop transport and later into a merchant cruiser. On 14 November 1916 she struck a mine laid by the German sub U-73 two miles SW of St Nicolo (Kea Channel) and sank. Ironically, exactly one week later, HMHS Britannic, Titanic’s second sister, came to rest nearby after hitting a mine laid by the very same u boat. Burdigala’s wreck has not been discovered.”

    I wrote these lines in March 2007, while pointing out the necessity of swift ocean crossings, not knowing that Burdigala’s wreck would be located some eight months later.

    I am also intrigued by the Titanic-Californian controversy. It will be of interest to you to know that she was torpedoed near Cape Matapan, Greece, on 9 November 1915 and sank in two and half miles of water. She has not been found either. Five men were lost.

    Indeed, should I spend my holidays in Greece next year, I will give you ample notice!

    My email address is: robkamps.1@home.nl

    I suggest you use this in your replies. Please do not hand it out to others.

    Sincerely,

    Rob


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