The alarm sounds pretty soon, as usual, though Massimiliano grunts, we did the habit, the appointment is fixed with the rest of the Rebreather Sicilia team at 8:00 a.m. in Marzamemi. At diving, the group meets, in addition to me and Massimiliano there are Riccardo, who as usual, early in the morning, start to make jokes “alla Palermitana” and Santo, who never goes unnoticed because of his stature. Finish the various jokes and conveniences, start downloading underwater equipment and video camera cases. Meanwhile Matteo, diving owner of El Cachalote, comes today to be our skipper and guardian angel on the surface, who seems hesitant for the amount of material to be loaded on the inflatable boat, in effect when we are all four, in the technical setting and with photo-video equipment, is a move and we can not blame it.
Diving is directly on the Marzamemi marina (south of Sicily), which at this time seems even more fascinating without the usual summer confusion and even that we are in mid-November, time has given us a wonderful day, flat sea and clear sky, we could not hope in the best.
Navigation is short, a few miles to the south, what makes us lose time to position the marker comfortably on the wreck, but just have patience and this is done, honoring the merit of our crew.
It was so long that I did not go to find it, my last dive was back in 2005, when, going to dive on the submarine Sebastiano Veniero, it had become a pleasant habit for us divers. When Riccardo suggested the team go and document it, it was different, it was not the usual walk around a wreck, it was something different.
On Veniero, over the years, it has been said and written about everything, we did not have the claim to find out who knows what, but the idea of Cingì liked all of us of Rebreather Sicilia team.
We had the task, perhaps the burden, of documenting the remains of a submarine of the Barbarigo class, who had the misfortune of being spurred by Capena steamer, while sailing at the first lights of the day under the puddle of water, on August 26 1925. And here, nothing different from what we had done to date, that is, to document relics, Riccardo wanted us to document everything, having clear in the mind that this submarine is not just a place of memory, but it is a resting place.
Within its modest hull of 67 meters, the remains of the various remain: Paolo … Goffredo … Rosario … Giovanni … Umberto … Leonardo … to name only some of the 48 crew members, victims of a fault not theirs. Finally it is time for me and Massimiliano, fortunately the descent is short, after a quick check we are ready and in what is not saying we are about 50 meters, the visibility is great, much better than expected, since we are in the area of “paranze”, I was expecting to find the usual suspended silt, so we can enjoy the visit.
When I’m in the water, especially to document a wreck, my first thought is always on the quality of water, the biggest nightmare for photographers. We landed in the proximity of the bow and took advantage of it to go immediately to look at, with Massi we are now quite familiar, this allows us to understand the point of interest on the fly to get a picture of effect, so we cut the fatigues even if not always.
The bow is entirely wrapped in trawl nets, there is one in particular that wraps it like a kind of candy, comes to the bottom and creates a sort of ornamental drawer, elegant to see, but to think about it, bad in the whole so the same thing throughout the wreckage. The wreck is known to all professional fishermen and not, it is reported on the cards, there is a law prohibiting it in anchoring, fishing and diving, but despite all this, people, disrespectful of this military cemetery, continues to peaches, fearing the eternal rest of that crew, who may have not yet found peace at the bottom of the sea, because it is shaken and disturbed by the constant nets that incinerate the wreckage.
Thought makes me angry, it disturbs me so that for a moment I stop taking and think about how it could be all the more beautiful and harmonious, if there was more respect between humans and the dead, but sadly I realized bitterly that nowadays it has perhaps become a utopia. In these breasts I always try to think positively, but the facts are overwhelming and every day I am in the water I see the rapes committed by men against the sea. We leave the bow and head towards the first piece of artillery a 76/40 cannon, the first of the two, though harbored by a tangle of summits and lenses of various sizes, still maintains its imposing and Massimiliano, photographed near him , It looks like a fuselage, how nice it would be if it was free, humans …
By checking the various shots on the monitor, I realize that the wreck is entirely covered with pink limestone algae, giving it an unusual appearance for a war machine, where there was the gray of a sheet metal, there is now a new colorful life, this is the sea that takes and that from. The numerous morays present are always ready to welcome you with the curiosity and the clouds of “Boghe” and Anthias, which make beautiful choreographies around a floating network drawer adorned with dozens of spirographs.
The deck is a succession of sheets metal, tubes and unidentifiable remains, I try, but it’s not easy and as I strive to understand, here is the three-bladed propeller, now colonized by innumerable organisms, I might have hours to look them, but today it is not possible, I have to work with my buddy, ready to put up waiting for the shot next to the propeller. In the meantime, Riccardo and Santo have also arrived, for a long time they make buddy dive, even though underwater appear to be two perfect strangers.
On the road, Riccardo crossing dazzles with his headlights, it seems like flying spaceship with his Gates housing, I think of the movie “close encounters of the third kind”, the effect is the same but in spite of the size and look, I know he is doing a good job, proof the many works done for “ombre dal fondo” with the team of Rebreather Sicilia. We leave and continue wandering, always on the tip of the fins, without touching anything, for fear of disturbing the crew. We are in the central area, on the turret, adjoining the open hatch. It is said that in the past, the various adventurers and sea predators have penetrated inside, in search of all kinds of things, unfortunately, this is the sad fate of many wrecks abandoned to themselves, prey unharmed by sea-hunters men of trophies.
I look into the inside, never dream of entering, I would seem sacrilegious to the crew, I just observe in strict silence, absorbed in my thoughts, where I try to retrace the last moments before the impact with the Capena boat, I try to imagine what they were able to say and think at those moments, screams, prayers, and the excitement of those who know that it is too late to reach the hatchway and from the ladder to the exit, to the salvation.
With this distressing thought, fixed the image of the ladder below me and with a veil of sadness, I realize that it is time to start the ascent. Hi Veniero, hi guys, I promise I’ll be back to find you to honor you.
Copyright Massimo Ardizzoni
All photos property of Massimo Ardizzoni