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  Home > History > Operation Shingle > The minesweepers > USS Swerve > The facts > The dive > References
 


The dive

The dives were dedicated to the search for distinctive elements that carried to the secure identification of the wreck; besides a photographic documentation entire was collected.
An important clue was given by deep sea divers, who told us that the removal of the engines was easy, because they were mounted on a spring system. This support was typical of minesweepers because it is a necessary system to absorbe the vibrations caused by the esplosion of mines.
We located the Swerve with the help of Marco Bellosi, an ex-deep sea diver who, after the war, recovered together with his colleagues, the majority of metal from the wrecks in Anzio area. Using echo sounding equipment we eventually got a good signal indicating a large metallic structure rising up to 5 meters from the bottom at a depth of 55 meters. The descent begins, the buoy marker is positioned near the wreck, but water conditions are bad, as usual, and the divers are completely enveloped by a dense wall of muddy suspension.
The depth is not extreme but the presence of fishing nets, snagged by the hull during its 58 years of residence on the sea bed, make the dive difficult. The poor visibility and the very bad condition of the minesweeper, render its structures unrecognizable. Only after several dives on the Swerve we are able to give the correct position of the ship. She lies down on the port side with her bow pointing North-West.
The contact point of the second team is close to the aft of the ship; here they can discern only the saddle tank, several scuppers and a little crane, which would have been used to hoist and to drop the minesweeping gear. Near the bow, two chocks are separated by a big cleat and, beside these, the impressive navy stoklen anchor; it is still held by its hawser. In the route towards the bow, along the topside, we meet a lower deck air intake, then other big scuppers. Soon we arrive near the central zone of the wreck where there are large holes cut during the removal of the engines by deep sea divers.
Twisted metal plates rise up threateningly from the wreck; all around we see large numbers of pipes and cables; ammunition boxes lie scattered, half buried in the mud. In spite of this, the ship is a natural oasis for marine benthos. Her structures are completely covered by oysters and sea anemones, being also an ideal habitat for filtering organisms such as sponges, gorgonians and tunicates. She also provides a sheltered site for many species of fishes such as congers, California scorpionfish, forckbeards, white seabreams and European hakes.
A lot of dive time has been devoted to the search for distinguishing features which could lead to a positive identification of the ship. The total length of the hull was measured and photographs were taken of the profile which were then compared to a historical photo of the vessel.     Forward

 
ammunition boxes in the mud Little crane near the stern Stern partially covered from the mud Stern with a scupper Right anchor still into the hawse eye