Minesweeper RD55

Minesweeper RD55

It’s a warm afternoon of August, I get an unexpected phone call from Domenico, a dear friend of Messina owner of the diving Ecosfera, I warned that in a few days, will make an expedition on a new wreck, which is inside the harbour of Messina and it seems that no one has yet documented it. His is an invitation to participate to come and make some shots. I’m really flattered, I know that this kind of participation is reserved for a few people, given the exclusivity of the dive inside the harbour. Coming end of August, the heat does not give truce, but here is the phone rings, the time hascome, Domenico asks me if I’m ready for the morning and if I can be atseven to his headquarters in Torre Faro, is still summer, I shouldwork in my diving, I would have to bring a couple of students in the water, I go, I’m not going, a quick swirl ofthoughts passes through my head and who knows when I’ll ever get back such an opportunity, I go!


Once in place, I immediately realize the complexity of managing and organizing such a dive in a very busy harbout like that of Messina, where between ferries, charon ships, military and so on, there is a not indifferent comings and goings and we’ll be right there! Indeed, moreover, we will be right in the area of ​​the entrance of the harbout and all those who want to or do not want to go there. We are six divers, we are divided into two independent groups to avoid confusion, also because it would be impossible to take pictures and videos with too many bubbles around.

My buddy will be another dear friend, Domenico, is not the same owner of the diving, it is a namesake and joking with other friends in common we already call Toretto (nickname), we are the only ones in CCR and thanks to this we will be the first to dive in order to spend more time underwater. Loaded the boat, we look like a kind of army ready to go to the boarding of some kind of thing, finished the operation of localization and mark, we are preparing to dress as fast as possible, are with the drysuit and outside it is a hellish heat, I want to jump as soon as possible to find refreshment with water contact. Rebreather in preheating, worn bailout, photo case ready, I’m ready, Toretto ready, we go.

We stop at 5 meters just for a check bubble and a ‘quick look at the configuration, we can not waste too much time because we have to deal with the current here in Messina, including harbour, always rages everywhere, now there is the stop tide and I have to take advantage of it as much as possible. The descent is pleasantly cool, the visibility is exceptional, you can see the bottom, I always think of the luck that my friends of Messina, which crystalline water and plenty of wrecks, they are spoiled for choice, but I go further.

While I land, I see the shape of ‘RD55 below me, it is a minesweeper tugboat or Regal minesweeper, sunk in these waters on 25/05/1943 due to an allied bombing, which made the victims also the R.N. Groppo. It’s small, it seems about forty meters in all, but I take this opportunity to take a shot from above and take it all without divers around, luckily that Toretto intuits my intentions and stop to avoid interfering with the photos.We are on the bottom a little more than 50 meters, our minesweeper even if it is in perfect navigation, it is rather battered, the deck has nothing left, certainly due to the fact that partly were wooden and partly is bombed, what we can see with evidence is the alternative triple-expansion steam machine, while the stern remains very little, most likely due to the explosion. With Toretto we dedicate ourselves to make some shots in total solitude, to do this we begin to check the wreck in all its angles, I must be able to realize what are the best views to make some decent shots, this time I have to say thanks to the small size of RD55, which allow me to go from one side of the ship to the other with little effort.

 In my mind I always have the current problem, Domenico on the surface claimed that the stop tide would not last long and that therefore we should have been quick in realizations. I clearly remember this dive, as one of the noisiest in my life, the noise coming from the surface is deafening, I seem to be ascrapyard while demolishing cars, with the shrill noise of the sheets that break or crumple each other , while someone enjoys pulling and making giant chains crawl on the scrap metal.

At any moment it seems that it must fall on the bottom, right on our heads, some metal scrap or that some passing ship wants to crush us, the situation does not make me particularly relaxed, also because I am usually used to carry out the deepest dives in almost absolute silence, without even the noise of bubbles. I think of those poor people of the assistance on the surface, which together with the Coast Guard, have to do the somersaults to avoid thatthe big ships of the commercial traffic pass us right over the footboard, we at the bottom, we are about fifty meters and we’re pretty sure it’s safe.

As agreed with Domenico, the second group falls into the water and there we find them on the deck of the minesweeper, they seem apaches, noisy and in no particular order, everyone takes his own way, who goes to shoot, who other photos, who curious in just round, I recognize Claudio and Philipphe of the “Soprintendenza del mare”of ​​Palermo, today in an official capacity, since when you do this kind of work, you work closely with them. I see Filippo intent on making video footage, as well as Domenico armed with housing to document this other piece of history of our Royal Navy. For us the time end come, also because is impossible continue to take pictures, too many fins and too many bubbles around, the peace is over it’s time to start the ascent, while I take a last look at the RD55 and its guest, a beautiful giant rockfish that seems to doze under the bow, but I think it is impatient that all this confusion of divers, lamps and bubbles go away as soon as possible, to return to being the real landlord. Forty meters … thirty meters … twenty meters … begin the long decompression stops that will take us out of the water after 47 long minutes, accompanied by the current of the strait, returned to be the landlady.