In ten days’ work, Devonport-based survey ship 'HMS Echo' found a string of sunken obstacles and wrecks – including what is believed to be a sunken amphibious ship from the Gaddafi era – in the waters of the capital Tripoli and the port of Al Khums.
Lying some 160 feet (ft) beneath the surface of the Mediterranean, the Gaddafi era ship was one of nearly 20 wrecks and objects peppering the seabed off Libya, found by HMS Echo in a remarkable 10-day search for hidden dangers to mariners.
HMS Echo was the first Royal Navy vessel into Libya after the 2011 civil war and downfall of Colonel Gaddafi. She returned this year for a concerted period of survey work – work which reaped rewards in and around Tripoli earlier this month with various obstacles found in and just outside the harbour.
Further sweeps using the advanced sonar of both HMS Echo and her survey boat, Sapphire, over a 10-day period located 1 liner, 2 merchantmen, 1 warship, 2 fishing vessels, at least half a dozen shipping containers, 2 barges (one of them wooden) and 4 very large sunken pontoons.
Around 6 miles off the coast of the port of Al Khums (also known as Khoms), Echo’s scanners picked up the distinctive shape of a warship. Lieutenant Jen Smith was Echo’s Officer of the Watch when the wreck was discovered:
"It’s always exciting when we locate something on the seabed that no-one knows about,” she said.
A lot of merchant shipping waits at anchor in this area if there are no spaces in the port. Now we know about this wreck, we can warn them all to stay clear and avoid any danger."