by Jeroen Veltrop
From 19 to July 26, 2014,10 GUE Tech 1 and Tech 2 trained divers stayed in Krnica, Croatia to participate in GUE Project Rossarol 2014. During this week they tried to unravel the secrets of the Cesare Rossarol shipwreck. The idea of starting this project came from the discussion we had on board during one of the exploration weeks organized by Maurizio from Krnica Dive. After a fantastic dive on the Rossarol we decided to make a plan to avoid the wreck being robbed from all its details and monitor its condition over time.
De Cesare Rossarol was a light cruiser of the Italian Navy. Originally the Rossarol was 85 meter long steamship which was launched in 1914 from the yard of Gio. Ansaldo & C. Genoa, Italy. November 1915, the fast steamship was inaugurated. With three boilers and two turbines the engine produced 24,000 horsepower towards the shafts. While using the two drive shafts with 3 blade propellers the Rossarol could achieve a speed of 32 knots. (Almost 60 km/h.) The ship was equipped with eight pieces of different caliber guns, had the ability to launch torpedoes while cruising and had an installation to lay mines.
With the entire crew of 109 people and a fully loaded with ammunition the Rossarol departed from Pula, Croatia, on November 16 1918 towards Cape Camenjak. This is just a few days after the armistice of Villa Giusti which ended the warfare between Italy and Austria-Hungary on the Italian front during WWI. From Cape Camenjak the Rossarol would continue to Fiume Harbour, a perilous journey through the many minefields, which were placed for defense in wartime. Despite all the vigilance the ship ran into a mine just after noon. The explosion caused the ship to break into two parts and destroy the mid-section of the ship. Almost all the crew got killed. The bow and stern section are currently lying approximately 300 meters apart on the bottom of the Adriatic Sea on 50 meters of depth.
During the project week we produced a solid foundation to monitor the current condition of the stern and bow section of the Rossarol wreck. In the meanwhile divers put in some lines in between the stern and bow section and surveyed this line. Due to the explosion of the mine all parts of the mid-section of the ship scattered around and are now spread all over the bottom. The lines and parts are being mapped and photographed. Using all the pictures and film material it must be possible to identify and to reconstruct the ship and the missing 30 meters! from the ship. Since this first project week sketches are made and almost every time dives are made on the wreck new details can be added.
The project week has been successful and could only been done with a solid team. We would like to thank the following team members four their outstanding efforts and laughs: Alex Thomassen, Bas Bruinsma, Berry van Leeuwen, Edward Smith, Jeffrey Woltering, Jeroen Veltrop, Joseph Chroust, Peter Zaal, Rene Lipmann and Sander Evering.
We also would like to thank Maurizio and his crew from Krnica dive for the great logistics and support to the project.
After this first week we became aware of the fact we still have to do some work before we can write down the complete story which the wreck has to tell us. We are positive about a continuation of the project in 2015. Stay tuned.