HMHS Britannic

HMHS Britannic 2017 - Courtesy of Andrea Mescalchin, Aldo Ferruci, Enrico Bortolotti and Paolo Bagordo

The following is from the original post announcing the 2017 expedition on Facebook and is included as accompaniment to the video produced by the expedition team.

"The first Italian expedition to this historic wreck has been conceived by the well known OC and CCR technical dive instructor Aldo Ferrucci.

I started major wreck exploration all over the world in the 2000’s, arranging an European expedition to the Andrea Doria passengers wreck, off the coast of New York. Then I realized the importance an need of assembling an expert divers team to do this kind of endeavor, people bonded together by the same passion. That’s when the Xpedition team concept was coined. The following explorations around the world ( Viminale, Leopoldville, Dornier, Micca, Bengasi, FW54, Dresden, etc.) supported the concept.

The HMHS Britannic was lost until 1975, when commander an legend Jacques Ives Cousteau found her. Since then she became one of my most ambitious projects, because of her history, beauty and close relationship with her sister, the infamous Titanic. Even becoming one of the most desired diving destination, only 20 international diving teams were able to explore the wreck, mainly because the tough environment, great depth, strong currents, heavy commercial ship traffic and Greek government regulations that are not an easy task to overcome.

After many unsuccessful attempts over the years, finally I’ve been granted with the necessary permits to do so, from Simon Mills the wreck owner and the Greek government authorities. After that I assembled the first Italian expedition, set to explore the wreck from September 25th to October 4th off the coast of the Kea Island, where the camp base will be located.

The HMHS Britannic 2017 expedition team gathered 13 expert divers:

Andrea Mescalchin, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix diver and Surface and underwater video operator.
Massimo Canali, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Christian Rivolta, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Paolo Bagordo, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Enrico Bortolotti, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Cedric Sarazin, French, TDI CCR Trimix diver
Marcello Bussotti, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Flavio Fanelli, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Roberto Strgar, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix diver
Denise Brusoni, Italiana, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix diver, photographer , underwater video operator and official team doctor.
Renaud Jourdan, French, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver
Caroline Dumas, French, Instructor, CCR Trimix diver, support and backup.
Aldo Ferrucci, Italian, TDI CCR Trimix Instructor and diver, photographer and underwater video operator.

The expedition mission is to explore the wreck and record the endeavour through surface and underwater footage to share our experience with as many people as possible."

The Discovery of Britannic's Bell - Donated by Richard Simon

HMHS Britannic was the third and final Olympic Class liner. She was designed to be the most luxurious of the trio and built on the lessons learned from Olympic and the tragic loss of Titanic. Before she was completed, World War I plunged Europe into chaos. The British Admiralty made a deal with the White Star Line to pay for the completion of Britannic on the condition that she would be requisitioned as a hospital ship for the duration of the war before being turned over to the White Star Line.

HMHS Britannic primarily served in the Mediterranean theater of the war, making a total of six voyages to provide medical assistance during the Gallipoli campaign. Her final voyage was in November of 1916. On the morning of November 21st, 1916, Britannic struck a mine off the coast of Kea in Greece. She sank in only 55 minutes, but thanks to the improvements made to her davit systems and the exceptional training of the crew, only 30 people were killed in the sinking out of the 1,065 who were on board.

Ever since her discovery in 1976 by Jacques Cousteau, rumors have swirled around what happened to Britannic's bell. Many believed Cousteau salvaged the bell and kept it hidden from the world until his death. Others believed it was donated to a museum in Athens. In 2019, an expedition to Britannic was launched. On the sixth dive to the wreck, a discovery was made which rewrote the story of the lost bell and cleared Cousteau's name.

Britannic's Bridge Equipment - Courtesy of Jennifer Sellitti & D/V Tenacious