Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Maria Bacolitsa

 Maria Bacolitsa - Aquarius Dive Center, Constanta Romania - Black Sea

Intriguing story!

End June 2013 we went to a location in the Mangalia area for a search to a for us unknown wreck, this wreck is mentioned on the existing navigation charts. Thanks to Alex and Elmar who made a custom made program to setup searching grids the wreck was easily found.

Sonar scans gave us a clear picture that it was a huge object with high eminences above the seabed.
GPS point was made and we continue for another 2 hours search in the same area for some other (maybe existing) objects.

Maria Bacolitsa Diver exploring the bow Aquarius dive center Constanta Romania Black Sea
Diver exploring the bow

After we finished our search grid we prepared the shot-line for a dive on this unknown wreck.
During descent the first visual contact was at 24m while the bottom was still 19m away. Dive conditions were moderate so Alex and Elmar were able to make some video footage for later analyzes.

It was clear that we were on the bow section of a huge wreck. 43.3m was the maximum depth during this dive.

After analyzing the dive,sonar and video data we knew that there was a change that this wreck could be the so called "Maria Pacuvita" 

Thanks to Internet, bingo...! "Maria Bacolitsa sunk 01st March 1980"

Full vessel data can be found here; Maria Bacolitsa

Knowing the name, the next question was, what happened on that faithful day in March 1980?

This is what we found:

Carrying a cargo of 22,000 tons of pig iron (note from us: it was not cast iron, as locals told us) from Vitoria, Brazil to Constanta, the Greek motor bulk carrier Maria Bacolitsa passed the Bosporus at 07.28h om March 1, 1980, bound into the Black Sea, advising that her ETA was 23.00h local time that day.

Maria Bacolitsa Aquarius dive center Constanta Romania Black Sea
Maria Bacolita- © Chris Howell
She subsequently communicated at 21.00h PM via VHF with another vessel that was in Constanta Roads requesting information about weather conditions, but then at 22.04h, she sent out an SOS while off the coast of Romania.

No trace of the vessel or her approximately 30 man crew was immediately found. In fact, it was not until May 2 that a diver located the wreck, no survivors were ever found.

A Dutch wrote the following:

The tragic end of the Maria Bacolitsa has interested me since I first learn about her fate: a small message in a Dutch newspaper the day after she went down off the Romanian coast.

At the time I was intrigued with the news: how can a ship suddenly sink in clear weather, with no apparent cause, and, of course, what has happened to her crew. As far as I can remember, I've written to Lloyds for more information (no internet or Google in those days!). In the early eighties some newspapers had this section, in which the readers could submit questions (sometimes newspapers have far better resources than
Maria Bacolitsa Aquarius dive center Constanta Romania Black Sea
© E.J. Dowling - Dick Wicklund
individuals, and/or see a story looming). Several times I put forward the Maria Bacolitsa, but all to no avail.

The company who owned the vessel never replied to my letter to them. In all: the questions as to what happened to the crew, what happened exactly and why did it happen, are, to me, up to today unanswered.
Maria Bacolitsa Aquarius dive center Constanta Romania Black Sea
© Unknown

Once, probably late eighties, I sat in a cafe's in a Turkish west coast town, I forgot where it was. There were a bunch of sailors sitting at the adjoining tables. I got talking with one of them, and suddenly remembered the Maria Bacolitsa. I asked him about it: the moment I dropped the vessel's name, the whole group of some nine or ten fell silent. How did I know about the MB, they wanted to know. I explained with the same story as above. They refused to say why they were so stunned, but were apparently very surprised that an ordinary tourist (I'm no sailor myself) would even know the name.

Intriguing questions, why she sunk, why the captain didn't mention during the SOS the position of the vessel and why was never any crew member found?

Any additional information is more than welcome!

Like to dive this wreck, contact us...

Maria Bacolitsa a a historically interesting and intriguing wreck...!

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