“Avantis III” was a general cargo ship built at the historic Tronderverftet shipyard in Hommelvik, Norway. Launched on 31.03.1977 on behalf of the shipping company Det Stavangerske D/S-selskab, Stavanger.
Initially, the ship had a length of 64.55m. Its extension was carried out in 1982 by 14.48 m. reached 79.03m. at length.
Its width reached 12.94 meters, and its draft 4.96 meters. In its final form, it had a gross tonnage of 2,362 tons and a net tonnage of 708 tons. The ship was initially named “Akershus” and was renamed “Avantis III” in September 2002, when it was acquired by Lamapi Shipping Co (Avantis Shipping Company) interests of Greek shipowner Antonis Agrafiotis.
The ship had sailed from Corfu with an intermediate station in Messolonghi, where it loaded construction materials and a Varadero-type Honda motorbike with its final destination Cyprus. On November 19, 2004, at 03:45 am, the cargo ship was sailing in the sea area southwest of Agistri Island in good weather conditions when the left side of its bow struck Dorousa Island. The inflow of water was immediate, resulting in the ship sinking in just 20 minutes in the position it is in today.
Of the 12 sailors on board “AVANTIS III”, 11 managed to board a lifeboat and be rescued. The 35-year-old 2nd cook of the ship Vassilis Koronis, enlisted only five days before, was the tragic loss of the sinking of the cargo ship.
The ship didn’t broadcast a distress signal. The YEN operations room was informed about the wreck only at 03:55 am, when the Master of the truck, Sotiris Bimbos, contacted his mobile phone from the lifeboat and informed him about the existence of a missing person.
A Navy frigate, three Coast Guard vessels, and fishing boats from Aegina and Agistri immediately rushed to the area, while a Super Puma search and rescue helicopter also took off.
A few hours later, the unfortunate man was found dead by the coast guard, who participated in the search for him.
Arriving at the ship’s sinking point, we will see the buoy that defines the wreck’s location and can also be used as a diving line. In good weather, one can see its bow even from the surface.
The wreck is located as it was in its entirety, resting with its left side at an angle of 90 degrees, looking at the North-South axis on a sloping sandy bottom.
The cargo ship starts from the minimum depth of 17m. where its bow is located and reaches a maximum of 48m. where its stern rests. The ship’s propeller and rudder are located at a depth of 41m. while part of the stern crane is in contact with the bottom.
The diver can move along the deck, observe his equipment, and reach the ship’s holds. In one of them, he will see the Varadero motorbike, now covered by benthic organisms, and part of the ship’s cargo of building materials (tiles).
The hulls are fully accessible, offering those with the proper training a relatively large penetration of both levels. By following the left route, you can leave the breach in the bow reefs, which caused the ship’s sinking.
Continuing from the bow hold to the hangar, you will notice the lifeboat on the ship’s port side still in place.
The bridge is accessible for sidemount penetration, and there one can observe much of the cargo ship’s navigation and communications instruments still in place.
Finally, the starboard anchor stands imposing, while the characteristic yellow letters with the ship’s name on the bow are no longer visible.
On the three-day trip, 15-17 July 2022, our diving team visited Aegina on the occasion of two exciting exhibitions on the island.
The Historical and Folklore Museum hosted the exhibition “The historical shipwrecks of Aegina 1941-42,” curated by Dimitris Galon, and a second one was held at the naval forts of Perdika under the auspices of the Navy entitled “Naval forts of Aegina 1936-1944” with speakers Konstantinos Kyrimis & Aristotelis Zervoudis.
Our diving trip in the wreck of the ship “AVANTIS III” was organized by Leonidas Stavrou, a good friend of our group, with the help of Kostis Maniatogiannis, captain of the boat, on our particular diving excursion.
Historical research and research of archival material: Andreas Andrikopoulos.