Albania Survey Project: 2010 Field Season
Multibeam operations were undertaken during June by the R/V Hercules. The survey program aims to conduct multibeam survey along the entire coast of Albania out to the 100-m contour. In 2009 survey reached the area of Porto Palermo, which had progressed over three seasons from the southern border with Greece. During the 2010 field season, multibeam survey continued the coastal section north along the coast. With viable anomalies from the 2007-9 season completed, verification efforts focused solely on those identified in the 2010 survey data. Per usual methodology, anomalies that are clearly modern vessels and those with great potential for ancient wrecks are marked as primary; additionally, representative anomalies in areas with odd seafloor features are also marked for investigation. Primary anomalies are all verified, while those in exploratory areas were expanded upon or narrowed depending on findings. Not all anomalies were completed and will undergo verification in the 2011 season.
Three submerged sites were located during anomaly verification in 2010; however, none of these were from the ancient era. One large ship was clearly modern, another early-modern, and a third that has little diagnostic features but is likely modern as well. These finds bring the total to 28 wrecksites or submerged deposit sites located over the past four field seasons. Of these 28 sites, 8 are from the ancient period. The actual area on which wrecksites could be deposited is quite narrow in the 2010 field season data, and it is not surprising that fewer wrecksites were encountered. Given that survey along the eastern Adriatic coast indicates more ancient vessels sank 2+ km from shore than within 2 km, the 2010 survey area was typically within 2 km of the shore. Hence, there are likely wrecks in the deeper waters further out from the coast.
A large modern vessel was clearly discernable in the multibeam data near the small promontory fronting Orsos Bay upon initial examination. This dimensions and observable configuration of this modern vessel is consistent with a large freighter. A likely candidate for the identification of this wrecksite is the Italian freighter Rosandra that was torpedoed by British forces on June 14, 1943.
It is reported that this 8,000-ton ship was carrying food and supplies to Italian forces stationed in Greece. This wrecksite did not undergo ROV investigation this season as it was considered appropriate not to position the Hercules over the site at this time, and also considerations for the safety of the ROV. Additionally, ROV verification was concentrated further south in order to complete contiguous areas with previous seasons.
Just outside of the bay fronting Himara, a sizeable wrecksite was discovered resting just off a significant slope. Given the location of this wreck and its orientation with respect to the line of the slope, it likely hit initially on this slope and came to rest at the bottom of it where the wreck settled into the sandy bottom.Most obvious on the wrecksite were cannons and a large anchor. Also present were what looked to be timbers in long runs at the northern edge of the site and many small objects including concretions. The site is overgrown and there is a particularly large amount of biofouling on all artifacts. The wrecksite was long and narrow, suggesting a moderate-sized sailing vessel with a run of dead flat along its sides. Included in the remains were 6-7 cannon deposited all along the site’s length; whether more are buried or have been removed by dragging is unknown. Each of the cannon were heavily overgrown and difficult to ascertain; however, basic features are a taper over their length, a cascabel, and trunnions positioned low at mid-gun. The degree of concretion and growth suggest the cannon are iron.
Another important artifact was a large anchor at the eastern end of the site (below right). This anchor had a general curve to its arms, with an angle at mid-arm, large palm flukes, possibly a square shank with a large ring at its end. Details of the anchor are also obscured by the tremendous amount of biofouling. The cannon can be seen at the below on left. Preliminary assessments confer a date of c1700-1750.
The remains of a wooden ship were located just SE of Porto Palermo in relatively good condition. Timbers exposed on the seafloor constituted the bottom section of the hull and included: keel, keelson, hull planking, and possibly a stringer. A deposit of stone nearby to the exposed timber section may be ballast rock. Conspicuously there is little other material noted on the site or in the surrounding area. Given the exposure of the wood and the little degradation or overgrowth that is exhibited on it, the remains are likely from within the last half century. Occurrences of burial-exposure fluctuations for submerged ship remains are common in many areas as storms and current changes shift sediment along the coast. Hcnce, it is not impossible that the remains are somewhat older, perhaps another century, and have been recently exposed.
With the addition of the HD camera on the ROV, and consequently the improved camera dedicated to the lookdown position, several previousely discovered sites were videoed again. These sites included AB08-AF (Rodon wreck), AB08-AG (Qefalit Tile wreck), and AB07-AL (Volage). This new video will allow a significant increase in all imagery of the wrecks, including still images taken from the HD video, and allow better site recording and analysis.