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.