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A British submarine, missing since 1942 and sunk with 64 crew members, has been found at a depth of 203 metres after a year-long search.
It is the HMS TRIUMPH, whose traces disappeared 81 years ago in the Aegean Sea. Since then, the submarine had been the subject of a search by various teams from England, Malta and Russia who occasionally visited Greece to find the lost submarine, but to no avail.
The mystery was solved by researcher Kostas Thoktaridis and his team. The story of the submarine is multi-dimensional and unique in naval annals as it is inextricably linked to the national resistance and the secret services of the time that were active during the occupation.
TRIUMPH began her intense operational activity in May 1939. In total she carried out 20 war patrols. It first appeared in the Aegean Sea at the end of March 1941 with the aim of reconnoitring the coast of the Dodecanese and landing officers in canoes on the coast. Major successes followed as she sank several enemy ships and the Italian submarine SALPA.
She undertook difficult and dangerous missions with landings of agents of the British SOE and MI9 organisations and rescues of trapped soldiers who had to escape to Alexandria, Egypt.
Triumph's trail disappears and on 23 January 1942 the British Admiralty reports in a naval signal that the submarine Triumph is to be considered lost after patrolling the Aegean.
Over the years there have been many conspiracy theories about the circumstances of the submarine's disappearance. The possible causes have been numerous: From a floating mine in Milos, from a collision with a sour sea, from being captured by German forces in collaboration with Italian agents, from an accident, from a deep dive, from hitting a mine in the known minefields, from being in Antiparos, to being a myth story to cover up intelligence inadequacies ... all were within the realm of possibility, thus greatly increasing the size of the field of investigation to locate the submarine.
The Discovery deep in the Aegean waters
Eighty-one years later, Kostas Thoktaridis' team discovers the lost submarine in the Aegean Sea at a depth of 203 metres. According to Mr. Thoktaridis, the submarine rests on the seabed of the open sea at an angle of 8 degrees to starboard, tens of kilometres from the coast. Its lowered periscopes and closed manholes indicate that TRIUMPH was in deep dive during its last dramatic moments. The depth and directional rudders are in a straight line so it was at a constant depth.
In the turret, the wooden steering wheel, compass and four-inch cannon can be seen, which is slightly raised upwards. The opposing manholes in the cannon compartment leading to the interior of the hull are also closed. On the forward side of the bridge the door leading to the gun has been opened ... All manholes are closed. Throughout the hull of the submarine the plates and connections are with riveted plates.
The final cause of the sinking appears to have been a high-powered explosion in the forward section of the submarine, which subsequently drove H.M.S. TRIUMPH to a depth of 203 meters (666 feet).
But what caused this explosion that sank one of the largest submarines of that era?