On October the 21st and 22nd of 2017, Antonis Grafas and his team dived with the support of Nikolaos Giannoulakis and the staff of the ChaniaDiving diving center, the alleged shipwreck of the steamer KYRIAKI, which is sunk in the bay of Souda. The ship was identified and investigated by Nikolaos Giannoulakis and his associates in 2014. In 2015, in collaboration with Dimitris Galon, it was documented and successfully identified as the KYRIAKI, which was lost on April 24, 1941, following the attack of five German aircraft.
The Greek cargo steamship (former STAVROS KOUMANTAROS, formerly VESTALIA) was built at the Russell & Co yards. in PortGlasgow, UK, with the number 630. She was launched on March the 20th, 1912 and construction was completed by May of the same year. The ship had the following characteristics:
Type: Steamer cargo
First flag: British
Last flag: Greek
Length (μ): 130
Width (μ): 17
Depth (μ): 8.2
Propulsion: Three-cylinder reciprocating steam engine, rated at 538 NHP, manufactured by John. Kincaid & Co. Ltd., Greenock, UK
Indicative speed (k): 11
With her first name, VESTALIA, she traveled for VestaliaS.S. Co. Ltd., based in London. In 1914 she was hired from the British Commonwealth and used as a troop ship with the tactical code A-44 during the First World War. In 1933 she was bought for the sum of 6,375 pounds by the brothers Nicholas, Theodosius, Panos and John Koumadaros and was registered in Piraeus under number 739. In 1940 the ship was sold to PoutousMaritimeCo. Ltd. of Puut brothers. On the 31st of March 1941, Kyriaki was commandeered by the Greek government and used as a transport vessel for the needs of the war.
On April 21, 1941, the ship sailing from Piraeus arrived at Souda Bay loaded with 100 British soldiers. Two days later, on April 23, 1941, the ship departed with British soldiers onboard with a final destination of Alexandria, Egypt. However, during her departure the ship got entangled on the protective grid of the bay, resulting in the soldiers being unloaded in order to carry out the ships release. On April 24, 1941, at five o’clock in the afternoon, she was attacked by German aircraft, resulting in her sinking without casualties within five minutes.
The shipwreck of the steamer KYRIAKI is immersed at a maximum depth of 84 meters with a minimum depth of about 70 meters. It is sloped on its left side and extends over a distance of about 130 meters, while the stern-bow axis is facing north-east. The wreck has a large rift in the stern area, but it is mostly in good condition and its anchors are still in place. Her holds are empty while the sails of the ship remain intact. The funnel is broken and lies on the seabed next to the ship. It is the first shipwreck of the “Battle of Crete” in the area of Souda bay, which has been adequately researched although further investigation is needed.
War Diary of the Royal Navy, Volume F, Navy History Service.
War Diary of the British Naval Administration of Souda, ADM 199/810 The National Archives Kew.
Fokas, Dimitrios: Report on the action of the Navy during the war 1940-1944, Volume A: From the pre-war period to the occupation of Greece (27 April 1941), Historical Publications of the NT 1953.
Dounis, Christos: Shipwrecks in the Greek Seas 1900-1950, Volume A, Finatec Edition, Athens2001.