"ArBioMe"– is a crosscutting expedition aimed to study the Messina Strait. The specialists of Messina University (Sicily) and U-Boat Malta with our hydronauts thoroughly surveyed the watershed between mainland Italy and the island of Sicily. The wrecks, the relief of the seabed, powerful currents and even the inhabitants of the strait were studied in great detail.
Messina is a porttown and itsresidents still remember Russian sailors with gratitude. And here's why: in 1908 an earthquake caused 3serious tsunamis that had hit coastal cities. Messina was nearly washed away; the destruction was horrendous. Squadron of Russian Imperial Navy luckily was stationed nearby - in port Augusto, Sicily. Russian sailors were the first to come and help the destructed city with fire raging in its’ ruins. The Baltic squadron rescued more than two thousand victims out of ruinsandtransported them to the nearest mainland hospitals of Naples, Palermo, andSyracuse. It is needless to say that modern Sicilians still treat everything Russian with great respect.
During the tragic events of 1908,some Russian warships and ships were destroyed in the Strait and the port of Messina. Therefore, it was expected that our colleagues invited the Underwater Research Center, RGS to join the expedition to look for the wrecks. Together with our hydronauts from “Orlyonok” We participated in the scientific conference devoted to the discussion of expedition goals and tasks, surveyed the Strait in the submersibles, learntto live and work on a real research vessel, starred in a movie and even visited several Sicilian cities.
One of the objects that we saw through the sphere of the submersible was the "Produgol", a steam-ship of the Imperial Navy. A hundred-meter-long ship for transporting coal is lying at the depth of 62 meters, little is known about her: the ship was bought by the Russian Empire at the beginning of XX century through third parties, perhaps from the French or the British. The ship anchored in the Strait of Messina for repairing and refitting, and then she was to go to her first voyage to the Black sea. "Produgol" was purchased to enlarge the auxiliary fleet carrying fuel. But the ship was not destined to enter the territorial waters of the Russian Empire, she stayed at the port of Messina until her last day in 1908 and was turned over by a destructive wave.
The film about the Messina disaster will be one of the results of the expedition. In the meantime, the specialists of the University of Messina are processing sonar data, soil and flora samples.
By the way, we can declare with full confidence that experts have not found Scylla and Charybdis, who protect the Strait of Messina according to the "archive" mythical data.