A three-engine plane lies 74 meters deep off the coast of Capri. It is the dive on the wreck of the JU52
XR Wreck Tour 2018, 2nd edition
The XR team is not a closed group of friends, of divers who come together to dive at above-average depths. It is not a team that goes around scouting and filming wrecks and then share their experiences on the personal message boards of social networks, in search of consensus and “likes”.
The XR team was created to introduce the SSI Extended Range philosophy and the Mares XR product line to the underwater world.
It is made up of passionate divers and wants to share and above all involve all those who wish to know, have new experiences and extend their limits.
It is a group of friends who meet and go in search of other friends around Italy.
It is a group that wants to grow.
The second edition of the XR Wreck Tour 2018 starts with this intent.
This time we have decided to focus on the Tyrrhenian Sea, with two stages. The first in Civitavecchia and the second in Catellammare di Stabia.
Unfortunately, during fall, weather conditions can turn into treacherous enemies. An annoying disturbance, coming from Spain, was scourging the coasts of Tuscany and Lazio. We were forced to abort the first stage of the tour, the one that would have allowed us to dive and explore two fantastic wrecks such as the Adernò, an elegant British passenger ship sunk by three torpedoes in 1943 and the Hospital Ship.
The parenthesis of Civitavecchia was reduced to a nice lunch at the port of Riva di Traiano.
The support diving center
Therefore, we arrived in Castellammare di Stabia one day in advance of our plans.
Bad weather was saving the Campania coasts and in the late afternoon we were at the Marina port with the company of Pasquale Manzi and Giulia Ruotolo, owners of Bikini Diving.
We arrived at the diving center in the middle of the Tek Week, organized by Aldo Ferrucci.
We also planned this trip with the intention of being there during this important event.
In the morning of Friday 12 October we finally get into the water.
The goal was to dive on the wreck of the JU 52.
The Junkers JU 52 was a three-engine transport aircraft produced by the German company of the same name since the early thirties. Initially, it was used as a civilian aircraft and then converted to a transport and bomber for use by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.
It was characterized by the all-metal construction, covered with corrugated panels.
The parts and pieces joined to the aircraft structure and the corrugated metal, much stronger than the metal tubes and the fabric, generated greater resistance, guaranteeing the aircraft greater stability in particular against side winds.
However, the JU 52 was too slow and too poorly armed compared to the fighter-bombers and therefore suffered many losses during the conflict.
Probably, during the Avalanche operation, which saw Salerno, Naples and the waters in front of it as the scene of events, the Allies struck and sank the aircraft that now lies on the sand, in flight attitude, at a depth of 74 meters.
It was discovered in 2005 thanks to reports from local fishermen. Their nets in that area often got entangled. Once, a strange object got stuck in one of them. It was most likely a pilot’s helmet.
The sky was clear and a magnificent sun was shining on the Gulf of Naples. The sea was calm. The navigation, in a rubber dinghy, was pleasant and allowed me to admire the marvelous coasts of the Sorrento peninsula in raptures.
When the dinghy reached the dive site, Capri was behind us, with its stacks.
We were ready for the dive on the wreck of the JU52.
The dive on the wreck of the JU52
There was a lot of current, the descent was challenging. I tried not to lose contact with the reference top.
Fortunately, the visibility was very good. We could see the outline of the plane at least twenty meters before our impact. A thick cloud of damselfish seemed to want to protect it.
The aircraft appeared substantially intact in its central body. The impact severely damaged the upper part. The cockpit is quite large. The driver’s seats and the control levers are clearly visible. In there, where once two brave aviators tried in vain to dodge the enemy anti-aircraft, today a large conger is ruling over.
The light, which is scarce at those depths, gave the environment a rather gloomy appearance. I paused on the three engines resting limply on the sand. The wavy panels, covered with concretion, gave it an appearance that is anything but warrior.
The twenty-five minutes of background that we had planned as always pass quickly. It was time to find the top. The long journey towards the surface began and it was even more tiring by the strong current that beats on that stretch of sea.