A mysterious fleet at the bottom of Lake Ohrid

by   Profile Ivana and Janez   When 20th May 2024
02Photo by Janez Kranjc_blog version
03Photo by Janez Kranjc, model Ivana OK (2)_blog version
04Photo by Janez Kranjc, model Ivana OK (5)_blog version

In North Macedonia, at the bottom of Lake Ohrid, there is a mysterious sunken fleet. The ships sank during World War I and there is very little information about them. There is a group of seven cargo ships, two of which are larger and were probably towing the others. How the Italian ships found their way to Lake Ohrid, however, is still a mystery.

Lake Ohrid is one of the largest European lakes, right next to Lake Zurich and Lake Constance. It stands at an altitude of 695 meters (which should be taken into account when planning deeper dives). It is about 30km long, and the maximum depth is 285m. When you stand on the shore of Lake Ohrid, you can't help but have the impression that there is a really big sea bay in front of you. The transparent blue water and the steep cliffs that fall into the lake reinforce this impression even more.

Near the town of Struga, we had set sail in search of sunken ships. In that area, the depth of the lake increases very slowly while you are sailing away from the shore. We anchored a couple of miles off the coast, but the sonar showed a depth of only 7 meters. The transparency of the water was very good, so the shipwrecks could already be seen from the surface. During the descent, a row of wooden ships immediately appeared in front of us, lying on the bottom in a relatively regular formation. The hulls, although made of wood, were still intact, but overgrown with freshwater mussels. The lake grass hides some of them quite a bit. On some, the nameplates are clearly visible, but this isn't of any help when it comes to identification. The control systems are clearly visible on one of the main ships.

We spent more than an hour on these mysterious wrecks, enjoying the experience that can only be provided by ships that have completed their journeys below the surface. We hope that the upcoming years and further research will shed some new light on the Italian ships at the bottom of Lake Ohrid.

Written by Janez Kranjc & Ivana OK.

Photos by Janez Kranjc.

Written by
Profile Ivana and Janez
When 20th May 2024
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