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Battle of Convoys Project or How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Italian underwater explorer Mario Arena and his team spent the summer locating and documenting 10 wrecks from the Battle of Convoys near the Pelagie Islands in southern Italy in the southern Mediterranean Sea. Here’s what they found!

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by Mario Arena

Header photo by Claudio Provenzani. The port side light of the MS Lago Tana.

Unloading 1.5 tons of equipment from our “everywhere” diving van, back on our base at Favignana Island, marked the end of the 2019 campaign of the Battle of Convoys project, our tenth campaign based in Lampedusa island since the beginning of 2006.


The bow of the MS Lago Tana, sunk by allied bombers and torpedo bombers on November 20, 1942. Photo by Claudio Provenzani.

The purpose of the project, which was run in collaboration with the Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily, is to locate the wrecks of the Battle of Convoys and document them in different forms. One of the main goals is to create and collect as many documentary materials as possible in order to promote a multi-media exhibition dedicated to the intense and dramatic events of WWII Battle of Convoys in the Mediterranean. We hope that fascination with the wrecks will attract and raise public interest.

In the three weeks of this year’s campaign, we were able to accomplish four multi-day excursions onboard an 36 ft/11 m fishing boat and spent 10 days on the high seas of the Central Mediterranean.

Besides the fascinating details of their cargo and machinery, all these wrecks feature an astonishing amount of marine life, making the dives on them even more enchanting, special, and unique.

Team: Davide Dal Molin, Peter Brandt, Brian Schreuders, Josef Chroust, Jin Hui, Caterina De Seta, Keith Kreitner, Nelson Marciano, Marcello Iacca, Simone Castellini, Claudio Provenzani, Federico De Gado, Piero Labò, Chicco Spaggiari, Mario Arena

Special thanks to:

SOPRINTENDENZA DEL MARE and Department of Sicilian Cultural Heritage – Agrigento, 

DAN, SUEX, HALCYON, EASY DIVE, GUE, PELAGOS Diving Center Lampedusa


Mario Arena is an avid underwater explorer; his passion for naval history, his research, and activities have yielded the location and identification of many historical shipwrecks. Mario has also organized and led a number of projects in collaboration with Italian and Croatian archaeological authorities. Mario is an Instructor Evaluator for GUE.

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Our Most Read Stories of 2020

Dive into our most read stories of 2020. Can cameras kill? What about those peculiar GUE rebreathers? Gradient factors anyone? Was it a world record dive? Find out.

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Header photo by Sean Romanowski

Greetings Tekkies,

This December marks the second full year of publishing InDepth, and what a crazy year it’s been. With the pandemic still raging throughout most of the world, it has been a most challenging year for the diving industry, as I’m sure you’re aware. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our readers for your continuing interest and support, and also thank our thoughtful contributors who make the blog possible.

Over the last year, we published nearly 100 InDepth stories covering the latest developments in exploration, technology, training, conservation, diving science & medicine, image making and technical diving culture. We also added select translations into Chinese, Italian, and Spanish . In doing so, I believe that we have grown our coverage in terms of breadth, depth and sophistication. Call it, a geeky labor of love!

In addition, we’ve added some depth-full sponsors to the mix, that have made it possible to grow and sustain InDepth. Our special thanks to DAN Europe, Dive Rite, Divesoft, Fourth Element, Halcyon, The Human Diver, and Shearwater Research. May your brands continue to flourish! 

Similar to 2019, we celebrate the coming new year with our Most Read Stories from 2020/2019. If you like what you read, please SUBSCRIBE, it’s free! That will ensure you’ll get our latest stories and content delivered to your inbox. Here’s to a hopefully wet and most excellent 2021!

—Michael Menduno/M2


Photo by Natalie Gibb

1. Cameras Kill Cavers Again 

Cave explorer, photographer and instructor Natalie L Gibb wants to make “taking pictures” the sixth rule accident analysis. How can toting a camera underground get you into trouble? Take a breath, clip off your camera, and say cheese, Gibb will explain.

Photo by Ortwin Khan

2. The Thinking Behind GUEs Closed Circuit Rebreather Configuration 

GUE is known for taking its own holistic approach to gear configuration. Here GUE board member and Instructor Trainer Richard Lundgren explains the reasoning behind its unique closed-circuit rebreather configuration. It’s all about the gas!

Photo by Joakim Hjelm.

3. Gradient Factors in a Post Deep Stop World 

World-recognized decompression physiologist and cave explorer David Doolette explains the new evidence-based findings on “deep stops,” and shares how and why he sets his own gradient factors. His recommendations may give you pause to stop (shallower).

Image courtesy of DeeperBlue.com.

4. Fact or Fiction: Revisiting the Guinness World Record Dive 

Newly released information calls into question the validity of former Egyptian Army Colonel and instructor trainer Ahmed Gabr’s 2014 world record scuba dive to 332 m/1,090 ft in the Red Sea. InDepth editor-in-chief Michael Menduno reports on what we’ve learned, why this information is coming out now, and what it all may mean.

Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd.

5. Can We Save Our Planet? What About Ourselves? Interview With Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson.

Managing editor Amanda White poses the BIG questions to environmental activist Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the architect behind its strategy of aggressive non-violence. His answers may surprise you—and even bring you to tears. What motivates the 70-year Environmental Hero of the 20th Century to keep up the fight despite widespread ignorance, apathy and greed? Find out.

Photo by Derk Remmers.

6. Isobaric Counter Diffusion in the Real World 

Isobaric counterdiffusion is one of those geeky, esoteric subjects that some tech programs deem of minor relevance, while others regard it as a distinct operational concern. Divers Alert Network’s Reilly Fogarty examines the physiological underpinnings of ICD, some of the key research behind it, and discusses its application to tech diving.

Photo courtesy of Michal Guba.

7. Deepest Freshwater Flooded Abyss in the World 

The efforts to explore and map Hranice Abyss, located in Hranice (Přerov District) in the Czech Republic span more a century. Currently, the monstrous chasm is known to reach 384 m/1260 ft deep. Explorer and member of the Czech Speleological Society Michal Guba has the deets.

Photo by Rich Denmark.

8. Urination Management Considerations for Women Technical Divers

Tech diver and doctoral student, Payal Razdan, offers an in-depth review of the options available to women tech divers for handling the call of nature.

Photo by Kirill Egorov.

9. Situational Awareness and Decision Making In Diving

Situational awareness is critical to diving safety, right? But how much of your mental capacity should be devoted to situational monitoring, e.g., How deep am I? How much gas do I have? Where is my buddy? Where is my boat? More importantly, how does one develop that capacity? Here GUE Instructor Trainer Guy Shockey, who is also a human factors or non-technical skills instructor, explores the nature and importance of situational awareness, and what you can do to up your game.

10. Examining Early Technical Diving Deaths

The early days of technical diving were marred by an alarming number of fatalities that threatened the viability of this emerging form of diving. Here InDepth editor-in-chief Michael Menduno presents the original accident analyses of 44 incidents that resulted in 39 fatalities and 12 injuries, as reported in aquaCORPS Journal and technicalDIVER in the early to mid 1990s.

11. A Voice In The Wilderness

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, along comes underground picture-maker SJ Alice Bennett, who is shedding new light on the dark, moody, twisting karst passageways that form what explorer Jill Heinerth calls “the veins of Mother Earth.” If you’re ready for a new perspective on the ‘doing of cave diving,’ switch on your primary and dive right in.


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