The Kalamitsi wreck

Executive Summary

The purpose of this article is to present the work carried out by UST (the Underwater Survey Team) on the Kalamitsi shipwreck. The reader is offered a complete picture by way of ship measurements and the identification of various ship features. Hypotheses are proposed and conclusions drawn based on the study of relevant historical literature and evidence found in situ. The age of the wreck does not permit first-hand eyewitness testimony. However, reference is made to the verbal reports made by relatives. Finally, the results captured by 3D imaging techniques are presented, as too is a video recording.



In October 2017, the Underwater Survey Team (UST) was invited by Dolphin Dive Center based in Kalamitsi, Halkidiki, to help identify a local shipwreck commonly referred to as ‘the Turkish wreck. Following an exploratory dive, the team returned six more times to collect data and measurements that would hopefully lead to identification. The results of this effort are presented in this document.


Location of the shipwreck

kalamitsi wreck

The Kalamitsi shipwreck is located on the Sithonia Peninsula in Halkidiki, near the village of Kalamitsi. It lies 600 metres east of the main beach and 200 metres from a smaller beach – the coordinates being 39°59’31.70″N 23°59’55.80″E. The shipwreck is not marked on the nautical charts, probably because it poses no danger to navigation.

kalamitsi wreck

The wreck is found broken into two main sections separated by a cluster of underwater rocks which rises to a depth of half a metre from the surface. The aft (i.e. stern) section constitutes the main part of the wreck. Lying on its port side, it remains relatively intact at a maximum depth of 17.5 metres.

kalamitsi wreck

A panoramic photo of the rocky shore leading to the wreck. It is located just in front of the bluff on the right.

kalamitsi wreck

A 3D model of the wreck superimposed on a photograph of the coastline. The cluster of rocks which probably caused the ship’s demise can be distinguished between the two main sections.

The forward (i.e. bow) section lies on one side of the rising cluster of rocks. It has largely broken apart with the remnants spread out on the bottom at a maximum depth of 5.8 metres. Approximately 25 metres of keel orientated at 215° can be distinguished. Nothing of the bow per se remains or can be distinguished. On the other side of the rock cluster lies about 45 metres of keel, orientated at 243°. As the keel is a ship’s lengthwise structural base which runs almost its entire length, this indicates that the ship was originally about 70 metres long.

kalamitsi wreck

At the stern, the propeller has been removed. However, the steering mechanism is visible from above the deck.

kalamitsi wreck

This photo of the stern clearly shows that the propeller has been removed.

kalamitsi wreck
kalamitsi wreck

The deck just forward of the helm has disintegrated. Looking into the hull, a rectangular structure running across the breadth of the ship is discernible between the 3rd and 4th cross-beams. This ‘container,’ with its two characteristic openings, is a repository. It still holds quantities of anthracite – a type of coal with a high carbon content which burns with little flame and smoke. This, therefore, is the most likely fuel used to propel the vessel. Note also that two bollards are visible aligned on the gunwale.

kalamitsi wreck

Photo from inside the ‘container’ or repository, the stone-like objects on the left are anthracite.

kalamitsi wreck

The steering mechanism at the stern.

kalamitsi wreck steering apparatus

The steering mechanism with the two inverted Y’s and spindle – identical to the layout on the Kalamitsi wreck.

The deck structure on the right side has disintegrated, revealing the steering transmission shaft tunnel.

kalamitsi wreck

Below the partially broken up hull on the starboard side there is a square structure with a circular opening in the middle. This is of unknown use, but may be the base of a vent pipe.

The cylindrical boiler with flame tubes (i.e. a Scottish boiler) and two furnaces (i.e. fireboxes). As the wreck is lying at an angle, the boiler is on the port side, with the furnaces facing the surface.

kalamitsi boiler

The boiler lies in an upright position, orientated towards the surface.

To the right of the boiler, the propeller shaft can be seen, allowing the determination of the longitudinal axis of the ship.

kalamitsi wreck propeller shaft

The ship’s propeller shaft. The left leads aft to where the propeller was, while the right leads to the engine. Notice thecoupling on the right.). The object behind the shaft is the boiler.

The propeller shaft discontinues at the point where it would have been connected to the engine, only the base of which remains. The shaft is perfectly straight, showing no indication of warping or bending. This indicates that it was cut with a tool, rather than broken by force.

kalamitsi wreck propeller shaft

The propeller shaft where it was cut.

The base of the engine is 4.15 metres long. Protruding bolts with nuts still affixed can be clearly seen, indicating that the engine was removed by cutting.

The base of the engine with the propeller shaft on the left. Engine mounting bolts with nuts still fastened on top are visible.

A mounting bolt protruding from the base of the engine.

In the forward section towards the bow, there is a flat square frame on the keel at 6.1 metres depth. The frame measures 4.15 x 4.15 metres in size. This is mostly likely where the boiler was originally mounted. It must have later rolled to the position it is found today.

Running from left to right is the keel on which a square frame with three holes lies. Two large diameter pipes and several smaller ones come out of this structure.

The assumption is that the boiler was mounted on this frame on the keel. This is logical as when full of water, it is the heaviest part of the propulsion system. Therefore, it has to be in the centre of the longitudinal axis and as low as possible so as to ensure the stability of the ship. It also has to be aligned with the engine, to which it provides steam through the piping which can be seen in the photograph above.

To the left of the frame is the auxiliary boiler (i.e. donkey boiler), which lies along the longitudinal axis.

kalamitsi wreck 3d model

A 3D rendering of the side view of the wreck. The yellow line represents the keel line, which makes it possibe to determine the length of this aft section to be 45 metres.


The forward section no longer exists as an integral structure and pieces of the hull are flattened on the sea bed. The position of the keel is obvious, making it possible to measure it. This led to a more accurate determination of the length of the ship. The position of the keel is on the extreme left side of the wreckage, when looking towards the bow. This suggests that the ship tilted on its starboard side after sinking, causing the port side of the hull to fall on the same side.

kalamitsi wreck 3d model

The 3D rendering of the open forward section. The complete absence of equipment suggests that its entire length was the hold of the ship. The keel is marked with yellow lines. As seen, it is broken into two sections whose respective lengths are 7.5 metres and 16.6 metres.

A structural element of the ship of undetermined use.


Personal testimonies

Personal testimony in relation to the wreck should be considered with caution. Because eyewitnesses are no longer alive some hundred years after the shipwreck, any testomony involves dissemination by word of mouth and the inherent distortion this involves.

According to the locals, the shipwreck dates back to the 1922 Asia Minor catastrophe, during which Greeks were exiled from the Anatolian coast. Local tradition holds that local Greek refugees have referred to it as ‘the Turkish wreck’ ever since it was beached on the coast. Apparently, when the shipwrecked crew asked the residents of Sykia for help, they were chased down and killed simply because they were Turkish. Another version states that some of the crew hid in the village church. Nevertheless, this did not prevent their persecutors from killing them. As a result, great unrest broke out in the area.

The fate of the wreck

According to some testimonies, when the ship ran aground on the remote rocky shore, the locals immediately began scavenging the wreck for anything that could be used or sold. The early 20th century context should not be forgotten. The area was still an Ottoman Empire territory, or had just been liberated. It was remote and impoverished. A shipwreck represented easy pickings – even a gift from heaven. However, the inaccessibility of the area meant that the only way was to use boats and transport the scavanaged pieces to nearby Sykia beach. Another logical hypothesis is that the scavenging lightened the remains of the ship, allowing waves and tides to force the vessel against the submerged rocky outcrop which eventually broke the ship into the two main sections which remain today.


The main boiler

kalamitsi wreck 3d boiler

The main boiler is typical of its day. It is a cylindrical apparatus with a diameter of 4.1 metres and a length of 3 metres. It has two furnaces (i.e. fire boxes), each measuring 1.2 metres in diameter. There is no folding or flute on their surface (i.e. a plain furnace) and each has a separate combustion chamber. It has fire tubes which improve efficiency by increasing surface area.

A typical example of a boiler with flame tubes and two furnaces. This one also has 18 stays like the Kalamitsi wreck boiler.

kalamitsi wreck furnace

The inside of the furnace. Pieces of the combustion grill can be seen. The furnace is not corrugated.

There are 18 stays, each 17 cm in diameter, while the screw has a diameter of 9 cm.

A sketch with the 18 stays layout, as well as a comparison photo showing the layout of the flame tubes below.


The boiler consists of three cylindrical zones, with two located at the ends overlapping the central one. They are fastened together with a double row of rivets at the point of connection. Each zone has a length of 1 metre, making a total of 3 metres which is the length of the boiler. At the top of the boiler, there is a hole into which the overpressure safety valve was screwed.

The auxiliary boiler

Immediately after the main boiler, the auxiliary boiler (i.e. donkey boiler) can be found.

kalamitsi wreck donkey boiler
kalamitsi wreck donkey boiler

This particular boiler has a height of 3.50 metres and a diameter of 1.70 metres. There are five bolts on the crown plate at the top, with the funnel in the centre. Inside it has three pipes which are 22 cm (9 in) in diameter. The furnace (i.e. firebox) and combustion chamber has a height of 2.15 metres. The opening which can be seen on the side towards the top is a manhole, used to gain access for cleaning and maintenance. The lower hole is the furnace door, through which coal was added to fuel the fire.

kalamitsi wreck donkey boiler

There are five stay bolts at the top, and the funnel is in the middle.

Auxiliary boilers were simple in design and relatively easy to manufacture. They consisted of two shells, one inside the other. The inner shell comprised the furnace (i.e. firebox) and a combustion chamber which led to the funnel. The outer shell was filled with water which was heated as it passed through the cross-tubes in the combustion chamber. The height and diameter of the boiler, along with the number of cross-tubes, were determined depending on the horsepower desired. A comparison between the diagram and the photograph of the auxiliary boiler of the Kalamitsi wreck reveals an identical arrangement of three cross-tubes. Based on the measurements taken, the heat surface was calculated to be 161 ft2.

The cross-tubes in their cross arrangement, their diameter is 22.5 cm.

The base of the auxiliary boiler is missing, making it possible to see the cross-tubes in their cross arrangement in the combustion chamber.

The diagram above offers an overview of the horsepower produced by vertical boilers. Being 3.5 metres in height (137 in) with a diameter of 1.7 metres (67 in), and having three cross-tube fixtures of 22 cm (9 in) in diameter and a combustion chamber height of 2.15 metres (84 in), it can be concluded that the auxiliary boiler on the Kalamitsi produced between 12 and 16 horsepower.

The Underwater Survey Team would like to thank Vassilis Pargas and the Dolphin Dive Centre for their invaluable support while diving the Kalamitsi wreck, and Vassilis Lestos for the boiler’s calculations. The author would like to thank Ross Robertson for the translation of the article


Steel ships, their construction and maintenance: a manual for shipbuilders, ship superintendents, students, and marine engineers, Thomas Walton

The marine steam engine, R. Sennett and H.J. Oram

Morison suspension furnaces – manufactured by the continental iron works, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Marine and Naval Boilers, Frank Lyon, Alfred Walton Hinds, Weyman Potter Beehler, John Sherman Barleon

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Author: Nikolaos Sidiropoulos

Ο Νικόλας Σιδηρόπουλος γεννήθηκε στις 28/6/1977 στην Θεσσαλονίκη. Το 2002 πήρε το πρώτο αστέρι της CMAS και ξεκίνησε την ενασχόληση του με τις καταδύσεις. Ασχολείται με την ιστορική και αρχειακή έρευνα της ομάδας, καθώς και την υποβρύχια βιντεοσκόπηση.