ANNIVERSARY OF THE SINKING OF THE DESTROYER HYDRA (Ύδρα” in Greek)
On this day 82 years ago, on April 22, 1941, one of the most important pages of glory of Greek Navy was written.
The destroyer HYDRA D 97 of the DARDO series was launched in Italy in 1932 and was the sister ship of the destroyers SPETSES (Σπέτσες), PSARA (Ψαρά) and KOUNTOURIOTIS Κουντουργιώτης). He took part in the raid of the Greek Fleet in the Straits of Otranto, Italy and in all the naval operations of 1940-41. Throughout the war he participated in anti-submarine and anti-aircraft engagements, bombings and patrols.
On the afternoon of April 22, 1941, while the destroyer Hydra was near the islet of Lagousa, a swarm of German aircraft appeared menacingly on the horizon. The sudden attack was unimaginably terrifying.
“The sky started to lose a little of its blueness”, recalls Kyriakos Lykissas, one of the survivors of the HYDRA Air Force Base and continues “78 German Stukas” approached our destroyer. Hydra’s sirens began to blare madly. All the crew took up fighting positions. The German aircraft turned upside down and began vertical attacks. Engines roared, sirens screeched and bombs whistled overhead. A real bully.”
On the bridge, the Commander of the Destroyers, Captain Grigoris Mezevyris, the Governor of Hydra, Lieutenant Theodoros Pezopoulos, and all the officers were fighting in an unequal fight. Very quickly the destroyer became unruly due to a barrage of bombs that hit the aft bridge. Dozens of dead.. the only remaining officer Lieutenant Konstantinos Neophytos ordered the ship to be abandoned..
“With the abandonment of the ship – K. Lykissas recounts – I went to see my brother on the radio, I went to enter it was full of corpses, legs, heads, .. blood. I finally climbed into the cabin and found my brother without a head .. he was two meters away. At that time I tried to take his ring, to give it to his wife, but a bomb fell and the gases started to press the sheet metal… I got scared, the boat tilted… I fell into the sea.”
A few minutes later the glorious destroyer HYDRA rose wide and sank with the blue and white billowing on her stern… taking with her 41 officers and sailors…
The ship rests on the bottom on its right side… its bow is intact while its stern up to the commode is almost destroyed.. Around the wreck at a depth of -70 meters, there are scattered bombs from the German aircraft… Still and today the gassed sheets can be seen from the jets of the German aircraft… The wreck has been covered by marine organisms while it is now a refuge for many of the inhabitants of the seabed”.
Today the story of the Destroyer Hydra is relived as a final tribute to those who sacrificed for our freedom.
The legendary shipwreck is located 7 nautical miles northwest of the port of Aegina and at a distance of about 370 meters from the island of Lagousa. It lies at a depth of 65 (stern) to 70 meters (bow), resting on the seabed with its starboard side. The wreck has a low profile 4–5 meters rise. Long after the end of the war, the wreck was the target of scrapping crews who exploited it for the value of its materials.
Deepest gratitude to Mr. Kostas Thoktaridis for his help and the photographic material.