In January 1857, the “Hellenic Steaming” company, the first steam-and-ship company, was founded in Greece, based in Syros island.
The passenger steamer “KING OTHON” was one of two ships of the same type ordered in 1859 at the behest of King Otto on behalf of the Greek Steamship.
After the eviction of Otto and the abandonment of the Greek throne on 12 October 1862, the “KING OTHON” was renamed “PATRIS” in order to eliminate any connection with the former Monarch.
The “KING OTHON” was built of steel, and it was a luxury ship for its time, built long before the discovery of the propeller.
The ship was 68.3m long, 8.4m wide, and with a capacity of 641 tones. It was built at Lungley Charles & Co., Deptford (Thames), and it was launched in the waters of the Thames in March 1860.
On the night of 23 February 1868, the steamer PATRIS has begun its journey from Piraeus to Syros, carrying cargo and about 500 passengers, while it faced with a storm and slight sea disturbance.
Located outside Kea at less than one mile, the ship has deviated by 7 nautical miles from its intended course resulting in crashing on the reef of Kundouros located less than a mile southwest of Kea.
N.G. Angelikaras was the captain of the trip, an officer with distinctions during the Cretan Revolution of 1866 and experience in wheeled steamships.
In the first moments, there was panic with the reports of the time giving the mark.
The passengers were many, almost 500. General, then there was agitation and confusion, except any disgrace! The ships of the steamer, instead of trying as their hands are offered to the unfortunate passengers, taking the boats of the steamer, have landed… Fortunately, a small vessel of the steamship’s engineers was used on them…
Angelikaras took all necessary actions in good time, and the life raft returned to the ship that remained attached to the reef.
As a result of these operations, all passengers left safely, and several of their belongings were rescued, as was much of the cargo.
Around 11 a.m., the ship was cut into two sections, causing its stern to sink immediately and three hours later its bow.
“One of the most beautiful, if not excellent, steamships of the Greek Steamship Company, Patrice, were involved….” all the newspapers reported and asked for explanations about the accident. The sea was slightly turbulent, and the waters were well known; the scale seemed to tilt against the captain.
Newspaper “Augi” 24 February 1868
Great accident was announced yesterday in the capital. The most beautiful steamship of the Greek steamship company, “Patris,” moving from Piraeus to Syrians, was shot down outside Kea and was lost.
Initially, the cause of the wreck was attributed to the captain’s negligence. This was followed by the submission of his report with a detailed list of the facts. This was followed by an investigation by the competent authorities, which attributed the wreck to a random event and was subsequently acquitted by the court of justice.
This unique Shipwreck has been well guarded in the bay of Kundouros of Kea for over 150 years. A rare example of shipbuilding art of another era, perhaps the only one in the Mediterranean and Europe.
The Shipwreck is located on the western edge of the reef and is divided into two sections, which are located at a depth of 30m. – 55m.
The boat section of the wreck, about 25m long, is located at a depth of 30m. – 38m, resting on the seabed with its left side and tilting 90 degrees. Parts of the tropida laminates have been detached, which confirms the violent impact on the reef. From the bow’s hulls emerge the ship’s hulls, which end up in the British admiralty anchors, which are located a short distance from the wreck. The part of the bow essentially sits on the bottom supported by the ship’s metal frame.
The scuba diver can penetrate the interior of the wreck by passing through the openings of the metal skeleton and travel intelligently in a not-so-distant historical era.
At a horizontal distance of 50m. south of the boat section is the stern part of the wreck, about 43m long. This section is located on the downhill of the reef and at a depth of 30m. – 55m.
The ship’s rudder is facing “full right” confirming the captain’s report. Going up, we meet the four acumen windows, features of the shipbuilding style of the time, which offer visual contact with the interior of the stern.
On the aft deck are visible parts of the relia as well as the capons from which the boat’s boats were set. On the other main deck of the ship remains upright with a slight slope one part of the smokestack of “PATRIS”, while other parts of it are fallen on the deck.
The decomposition of the wooden deck allows us to visual contact with the interior of the ship, and we can distinguish clear parts of its propulsion mechanism.
Arriving at the point of division of the ship, the results of the great forces that practiced on the ship’s plates just before it was swallowed up forever at the bottom of the Aegean Sea are visible.
The right wheel is still in place and is the most impressive part of the wreck. The bases on which a wooden light superstructure covering the top of each wheel was once attached are visible.
The left wheel, which had detached at the time of the ship’s impact with the seafloor and was at a depth of 52m, was re-emerged in 2007.
The Industrial Museum of Hermoupolis, the National Research Foundation, the Tax Office of 19 Antiquities, and the diving team UFR – Team cooperated in this operation. At the same time as the process of the launch, the project was filmed, with the aim of creating the documentary “PATRIS” – lost in 1868, a co-production of E.R.T., the Art Production Office, as well as the Industrial Museum of Hermoupolis.
On 8 September 2010, the wheel of the steamer “PATRIS” was transferred to its final position in the rear courtyard of the Industrial Museum of Hermoupolis and placed on a special basis. The wheel, which weighs 10 tons, has a diameter of 6 meters and rests on an axle of cast steel with a diameter of 40 cm. and 5 meters long; it is an excellent and rare example of shipbuilding art.
Since July 2018, the Industrial Museum of Hermoupolis hosts a permanent exhibition of objects that were collected during the above project.
Finally, we would like to thank “DIVER’S CORNER” diving center and Mario Papavassiliou for organizing the dive at the site of the Shipwreck and the Captain of the diving boat Sotiris Karydis for the perfect cooperation.