The wreck of a long-lost First World War French submarine was recently discovered by an underwater research team off Greece.

Floreal, which sank in 1918 was located by the team of Kostas Thoctarides at a depth of 98 meters in the Thermaikos Gulf off Thessaloniki.

“In the area of the wreck, there were very strong underwater currents and low visibility, typical of the area. The submarine has rested on the muddy bottom of Thermaikos with a slight inclination to the right. Its periscopes are down. The 65mm gun mount can be seen, as well as the torpedo launchers. One of the manholes remains half-open even today,” Thoctarides said.

Wreck is intact
The wreck is intact and in excellent condition. “It was as if time had stopped at the moment of its sinking, in 1918,” he added.

Floreal was one of 18 Pluviôse-class submarines built for the French Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. Named after the second month of Spring in the French Republican Calendar, was ordered on 26 August 1905 from the Arsenal de Cherbourg. The submarine was laid down in 1906, launched on 18 April 1908 and commissioned on 16 June 1909.

How the French submarine sank off Greece
The French submarine was deployed in the Aegean during the First World War.

In the early hours of August 2, 1918, accompanied by the destroyer Balliste, it sailed from Thessaloniki bound for Patras in western Greece. The weather was clear and the visibility was good.

The destroyer was 400 meters behind the submarine. At the same time, the British cargo steamer Magda sailed into Thermaikos, accompanied by the mandatory reconnaissance ship HMS Hazel.

Magda was ahead, while Hazel followed in constant zig-zagging as a necessary anti-submarine countermeasure. At 01:30 and while astern and left of Magda, Hazel sighted the silhouette of the small submarine ahead at a distance of 100 meters.

Collision was inevitable and a minute later Hazel rammed Floreal.

Balliste rushed to the aid of the stricken submarine and attempted to tow it back to Thessaloniki. The inflow of water into the submarine was extensive and so it was deemed preferable to head towards the nearest coast of Halkidiki.

Despite the efforts, the submarine finally sank at 03:25, in Thermaikos Gulf after being successfully abandoned by all its crew.

Historic shipwrecks off Greece
Thoctarides and his team of divers have discovered several historic shipwrecks in the Aegean and Ionian Seas shedding light on the fierce navy battles that took place near Greece in the two world wars.

For example, in 2022, the team discovered the wreckage of an Italian submarine that was sunk by the Allied forces in 1941 off Mykonos.

The Jantina, which sank on July 5 from the torpedoes of the British submarine HMS Torbay, lay at the bottom of the Aegean without anyone knowing its exact location for more than 80 years.

Wreck of Long-lost French Submarine Discovered Off Greece –