Italian historian locates WW2 steamer below bed of Po river

Italian historian locates WW2 steamer below bed of Po river
The Po is Italy's longest river. Photo: Zveiger/Depositphotos
The Italian San Giorgio boat had sunk in a storm near the mouth of the Po river in Italy while on patrol duty towards the end of WW2.

It's 54 metres long and eight metres wide but somehow the WW2 steamer had not been found since it sunk in a storm on the night of February 12th 1944. 

The German captain (the ship had been taken over by the German 'Kriegsmarine' after the 1943 Armistice of Cassibile, which stipulated Italy's surrender to the Allies) had attempted to maneuver the ship, to shelter from the storm, towards a lighthouse in Pila where a German squadron was waiting. 

The German soldiers abandoned the vessel but the San Giorgio sunk into oblivion. 

“After the rescue operations of the crew and armaments and the recovery of the coal from the hold, the Germans consented that the fishermen of Pila take from the semi-submerged ship all that was removable, so in a couple of months almost all the core structures disappeared ” Luciano Chiereghin, who made the discovery, explained to local daily Rovigo Oggi. “Only the now bare blanket and the cannon, installed in a pitch above the bridge of the foredeck, remained visible,” he added. 

As local fishermen continued to collide with the boat's cannon in the two decades after the war, they eventually requested it be removed. The port authorities in Chioggia, a seaside town south of Venice, eventually blasted the cannon off the boat.

As the delta and the beach spread in the 1970s, the sunken steamer became obscured. Chiereghin and a team of experts analyzed satellite and aerial thermal images of the delta and have been able to locate the ship's outline below the riverbed near one of the banks of Italy's longest river. 

Subsequent magnetic tests confirmed that the lost steamer is situated three to five metres below the Scana Boa beach in Porto Tolle in the northeastern Italian region of Veneto. 

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