A Croatian underwater explorer who rediscovered the wreck of HMS Aldenham that was sunk by mines has now found two undetonated Nazi naval mines in the same part of the Adriatic Sea as the wreck.
Velimir Vrzic, a retired police officer from the Croatian port city of Rijeka on Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic Sea, received a call from a friend about a strange object he had noticed in the sea.
Vrzic, who was a copper for 23 years before stepping down eight years ago, told Newsflash: “I received a call from my friend Peter Smojver, who is one of Croatia’s best-known sailors, about a strange object in a small bay on the island of Pag.
Vrzic, who has a passion for underwater exploration and said that he personally found the wreckage of the WWII British destroyer HMS Aldenham, used a diver propulsion vehicle to scour 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) of the coast before finding the mine about five metres (16 feet) below the surface.
He told Newsflash: “I found a large metal object that looked like a German EMC naval mine.
“After travelling another kilometre under the sea and entering the bay, I found another mine that resembled a German UMB naval mine.”
Vrzic told Newsflash “I knew the German forces relied on anti-aircraft operations and laid anti-ship mines at the entrance of major ports when they were without the air force and navy at the end of World War II, but the fact that I found two mines in the same day is incredible.”
Vrzic launched the UMS (Underwater Mine Search) Project to help located and document lost naval mines in the Adriatic Sea.
He told Newsflash: “The British destroyer HMS Aldenham was one vessel that was sunk by these mines off the coast of Pag that I personally found.”
Aldenham is one of the ships credited with the sinking of the German U-587 submarine on 27th March 1942. She also took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily, the landings at Salerno and Anzio, the Dodecanese Campaign and Operation Dragoon before being assigned to the Adriatic Campaign.
On 14th December 1944, Aldenham was sunk by a naval mine in the Adriatic Sea off Pag Island after she led a Royal Navy force in a bombardment mission against targets on Pag and near the town of Karlobag in support of the Yugoslav Partisans.
The wreck, broken in two by the explosion, was discovered in 1999-2000.
It is a war grave where 126 crew members and two Yugoslav Partisans died. She was the last Royal Navy destroyer lost in World War II.
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Story By: Sofija Dizdarevik, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
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