KALI TYCHI (former VINCENZO DORMIO, CESARE, MARYBIRCH)

The wreck of the motorship KALI TYCHI, which sank at a shallow depth due to an accident on July 25, 1975, near the port of Agia Kyriaki in the prefecture of Magnesia, is a special diving object as it is marked by a long and interesting history. The ship was built in 1917 at the William Henry Warren Shipyard in New Holland, Lincoln Shire, England, as a MARYBIRCH for the British company G.F. Birch & Sons.

Type: Freight steamer First
Flag: British Construction: 1917
Completion: August 1917
COX: 217
KKX: 172
Length: 34.7 meters
Width: 6.4 meters
Depth: 2.4 meters
Propulsion: 96 NHP two-cylinder diesel engine (WBJ & C G Bolinders Co. Ltd)
Propellers: 1 Indicative
Speed: 9 knots
Shipbuilding company: William Henry Warren, New Holland (Lincoln shire), England Construction number: 127

History

The ship, named after the wife of the company’s founder George F. Birch, joined the company’s small fleet shortly after delivery and was used to transport grain and bulk cargo, mainly to the North Sea. In 1924 it was sold to L. Martini’s company and registered in Genova, Italy under the name CESARE. It was then acquired by L’Argonauta Società Anonima di Navigazione while remaining registered in Genoa. In 1933 it was sold to the shipping company of Ferrando & Massone, based in Genoa, while in 1939 it was bought by the shipping company Ditta Giuseppe Dormio, renamed VINCENZO DORMIO and registered in Bari with registration number 68 and the ILKZ International Badge. With the entry of Italy into World War II in June 1940, the ship was commandeered and used as an auxiliary minesweeper, with the side badge R. 109, by Regia Marina Italiana. In August of the same year she took up the duties of pilotaggio foraneo [1] with the side badge F. 81 replacing the ship ASTERIA (393 GRT, built in 1911, registered in Fiume with the number 62) which until July 1940 bore this badge. On 29 July 1943 F. 81 (see VINCENZO DORMIO, formerly CESARE, formerly MARY BIRCH) took part in the rescue of the wreckage of the Italian minesweeper PIETRO MICCA TORBAY (Governor Lt. Robert Julian Clutterbuck, RN) near the Cape Santa Maria di Leuca in the Adriatic. While the PIETRO MICCA managed to escape the first torpedo off the beam launched by HMS TORBAY, the second torpedo hit the intermediate of the boat, resulting in the PIETRO MICCA sinking within minutes and only 18 of the 78 crew members were rescued. After the end of the war, a new diesel engine (Ansaldo 300 BHP) was installed in the VINCENZO DORMIO and was put into operation as a cargo vessel until 1964, when it was sold to the Greek company of Karanikolaou and Vambari. The ship was renamed KALI TYCHI and was registered in Piraeus with the number 2453 and the International Badge SZLC. KALI TYCHI was later bought by Athanasios Koutsogilas, who was both the owner and master of the ship in question.

The sinking

At dawn on July 25, 1975, KALI TYCHI, under the rule of A. Koutsogilas and a five-member crew, sailed loaded with 230 tons of iron and with good weather conditions from Volos to Heraklion, Crete. Two hours after its departure and while the ship was 1.5 nautical miles from Trikeri, Magnesia, a slight inclination was observed which was found, coming from the inflow of water in the No 2 hull of the ship. It immediately signaled an alarm, and the pumps were put into operation to pump the water. Despite the continuous operation of the pumps, the water level in the hull was constantly rising, resulting in the captain taking the decision to direct the ship to Agia Kyriaki (Magnesia) with the immediate purpose of rescuing it. In the dark KALI TYCHI sailed to Agia Kyriaki where with the help of the crew it was moored on the shore, near the port of Agia Kyriaki. Subsequently, despite intensive rescue efforts, the pumps were covered by the incoming water, ceasing to operate, causing the ship to sink at the place where it had docked.

The shipwreck

KALI TYCHI is still submerged, at a shallow depth, a few meters from the waterfront, between the dock and the port of Agia Kyriaki and is visible from the surface. The imaginary stern axis of the bow is oriented east and the shipwreck extends from the surface to a depth of 17 meters. The whole shipwreck is covered with benthos. The hold and accommodation at the stern remain accessible and still retain some mechanical and electrical elements of the ship. Antonis Grafas and his team dived the wreck of KALI TYCHI in October 2020, supported by Costas Kontou (Aqua Core Divers).
DG

Remarks 1. The designation pilotaggio foraneo refers to a small vessel used to drive larger ships safely through the minefields guarding the respective ports. It was a kind of pilot, which did not carry the pilot on the approaching ship, but guided the approaching ship through the minefields safely to the port.

Sources

Capone, Corrado: SIAMO FIERI DI VOI, La storia dei nostri gloriosi “battelli” durante la guerra 1940-1943 e il ricordo degli equipaggi che donarono la vita alla Patria, Istituto Grafico Editoriale Italiano 1996
Comando Sommergibili della Marina Militare (MARICOSOM)
Diario di guerra Marina Taranto (Archive Platon Alexiades)
Lloyds Register of Shipping
Notarangelo, Rolando / Pagano, Gian Paolo: Navi mercantili perdute, Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare, 1997
Repertorio di Marina Mercantile (AIDMEN) Dounis, Christos: The Shipwrecks in the Greek Seas 1951-2000, published by Finatec A.E. 2001