The Canarian steamboat San Isidro Labrador, shot down by a torpedo during World War II, was found in perfect condition under the waters surrounding the Greek island of Kythnos almost 80 years after it sank.
The ship, which had been chartered by the Nazi German Ministry of Transport to carry weapons to North Africa, sank after being hit by a torpedo from the Greek submarine Katsonis on April 4, 1943,
in an unusual offensive for these submarines.
This "unusual" shipwreck was located at a depth of 98 meters by the research team led by Kostas Thoktaridis, who has spent 35
years observing the seabed of Greece and accumulates more than 500 finds.
The preservation conditions of the ship are "excellent", the side doors remain open, the chimney remains in place and it seems that on board the San Isidro Labrador
“time stopped in 1943”Thoktaridis assured in statements to Efe.
Katsonis Submarinehad sailed from Beirut on March 24, 1943 for the first war patrol with Lieutenant Commander Vassilis Laskos as commander.
This submarine successfully torpedoed an Italian escort ship, the Tergeste, at Gitio
(south of the Peloponnese peninsula) on April 2, and immediately afterwards he moved to Cythnos, in the Western Cyclades, where he located the San Isidro Labrador.
The Katsonis fired two torpedoes 400 meters away that missed, but the third one opened a hole in the left rear part of the San Isidro Labrador, at the height of the engine room,
which penetrated the hull at 41 knots speedalthough it never exploded.
"We would not have known it, if the Spanish captain of the ship, commissioned by Germany and carrying a Spanish flag like its crew, had not told us when we rescued them from the sea whipped by the cold," wrote a high-ranking officer of the Katsonis, Elias Tsukalás.
"A torpedo hit the target, but it didn't explode!! The first machinist of the Spanish, who was in the engine room at the time, saw that the torpedo of that 'sea monster' reached his shoulder but it did not explode and he went crazy. Because of that failure, the water burst into the hull and the ship sank," said the captain of the San Isidro Labrador, as quoted by Tsukalás.
Although there is a German report that the torpedo passed through both walls of the ship and followed its path to the coast, Thoktaridis confirmed that
he could only locate a hole in the ship's hull.
Thoktaridis also explained that the torpedoes used by the Greek Navy during the
Second World War they were problematic due to a couple of defects in their compass and in their front part, which in this case prevented them from detonating.
The Spanish ship belonged to Transcomar, a Spanish company, but with German capital, which acquired a total of
10 ships with neutral flag in order to continue supplying the Nazi troops led by Erwin Rommel in North Africa through the Mediterranean.
The San Isidro Labrador was built in 1904 by R. Williamson & Son in Workington, England, under the name Guanche, for the Compañía Marítima Canaria, a Spanish subsidiary of the British company Elder & Fyffes, based in the Canary Islands.
36.6 meters long and 6.8 meters widewas acquired by Hamilton y Cía in 1925 and was renamed Carmen, although it continued to make trips to the Canary Islands to bring fruit to Tenerife.
In 1929 it was acquired by Álvaro Rodríguez Lópezan important shipowner from the Canary Islands, who renamed it San Isidro Labrador.