14 Jul 2023

First clean-up of SS Pelagosa, Croatia

SS Pelagosa was an Austro-Hungarian armed ship sunk by an Italian submarine off the island of Grujica, Croatia, in February 1918. It was about 50 meters long and 6 meters wide and it rests in navigational position on the seabed 52 meters below the surface. The shipwreck is almost completely intact but the bow section is badly damaged.

As an artificial reef, it is populated by a large number of fish, but it also attracts many local fishermen. Today, therefore, it is completely covered with tangled fishing nets. There are at least two huge gill nets on top of the wreck that extend into the steering wheel and at least one trawl net next to it.

The project.

If we understand the local fishing traditions and also take into account the value of the lost nets to the fisherman, we can conclude that the local fishermen did not deliberately fish around the wreck, but that a possibly false sonar reading misled them into believing that the shipwreck involved a school of fish.

Unfortunately, the fishing nets were left on the shipwreck after she became entangled. A team of Ghost Diving Adriatic divers managed to record the shipwreck in detail on video during 4 days and then proceeded to remove the so-called "ghost nets".

We managed to remove a large trawl and a large section of one of the gillnets by blasting them to the surface with liftbags and then towing them closer to shore for loading onto the small boat. In total we were with a team of 7 divers. All equipped with so-called Closed Circuit Rebreathers (ccr). The average bottom time on the shipwreck was 55 minutes at a depth of 50 metres. All dives are performed according to Ghost Diving procedures and without details.


We have managed to remove a good part of the ghost nets from the Pelagosa, but unfortunately most of the nets are still there. To remove the large gillnet we need the support of a trawler boat with a winch. Even if we manage to somehow get that net to the surface, it's impossible to load it onto the boat without the help of a winch. This is now clear.

Besides Pelagosa, there are other wrecks in the surrounding area with lost gillnets and trawls worth cleaning.

The next project is planned for next year.

Maurizio Grbac | Coordinator Ghost Diving Adriatic

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