Wreck of a lost WW2 submarine, HMS Triumph, has finally been found

Lost over 80 years ago under mysterious circumstances, the WW2 Royal Navy submarine HMS Triumph has finally been discovered in the Aegean by Greek divers.
Christopher McFadden
Image of the wreck of HMS Triumph.
Image of the wreck of HMS Triumph.

Kostas Thoctarides/Facebook 

The wreck of a top-secret Royal Navy WW2 submarine, HMS Triumph, has been found after a 20-year-long search by a veteran Greek diver. The submarine was pivotal in ushering in the era of special operations and was operating off the coast of Greece in 1942 when she mysteriously disappeared. However, 80 years after her loss at sea, Kostas Thoctarides announced on Facebook that he, and his team, had finally located the sunken submarine in the Aegean Sea.

While he did not disclose HMS Triumph's resting place, it is allegedly "tens of kilometers" off Cape Sounion and at a depth of about 666 feet (203 meters). According to the Facebook post, HMS Triumph's wreck is mostly in relatively good shape, with its hatches closed and periscope retracted. This indicates that she was performing a deep dive before getting into trouble, never to rise again.

However, the team did find some evidence for why the submarine may have been lost in the first place; a badly damaged fore section that appears to show signs of an explosion. It is currently unclear if an internal or external source caused the damage, but it is severe enough to have sent the submarine and her crew to the depths. To this end, the diver team is currently liaising with naval and maritime experts to determine what could have happened to her.

HMS Triumph first launched in 1938 and completed over 20 covert missions throughout her short career. These included anti-shipping operations in the Mediterranean Sea. However, she is best known for her role in special operations throughout the war, including rescuing stranded Allied soldiers in North Africa and supporting Greek resistance fighters.

In 1941, the submarine completed various missions, including transporting Capt. Bill Hudson, a British Special Operations Executive (SOE) officer, in secret to Petrovac, a Serbian port under Axis control on the Adriatic Coast. This mission aimed to assist the Yugoslav partisans and was among the first SOE missions, serving as a precursor to all subsequent special military operations.

Her final mission was set for January 9, 1942, to rescue prisoners of war escapees from Antiparos, but she never showed up. According to the Facebook post, it is known that she conducted some other anti-shipping activities en route, which may have been her final act of the war before floundering. This is also supported by the discovery of a series of torpedoes in the vicinity that the submarine would have used at this point in the war.

This adds some weight to the fact that a malfunctioning torpedo may have knocked out the submarine, but further investigation is needed to know for sure. One of her torpedoes can be seen "halfway out" of its tube, Thoctarides explains in his Facebook post. Another plausibility is the impact of a mine, which HMS Triumph had suffered from earlier in the war.

"My opinion is that all 64 heroes are in the submarine, as they were in a deep dive and all hatches are closed,"  Rena Giatropoulou Thoctarides (one of the search team) said. "HMS Triumph must be treated with the respect and sanctity it deserves as a maritime war grave," she added. "With the thousands of ships lost in WW2 comes a multitude of human stories — not just of the victims but more so about those who were left behind," Timmy Gambin, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Malta, told Live Science.

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