THE DONATOR

PROSPER SCHIAFFINO

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WRECK COURSE

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Its history...

The Donator was built in 1931 by Holz Worksted AS in Bergen (Norway). It was 78 m long and 12 m wide, and could spin 14 to 15 knots powered by its 1800 hp engine. It was sold in 1933 to the Compagnie Générale d'Armements Maritime which renamed it Petite Terre and assigned it to the transport of bananas between the Metropolis and the West Indies. In 1939 it became the property of the Algerian Navigation Company for North Africa or Compagnie Schiaffino. It used to baptize its ships with the first names of the members of the family, and the Donator then becomes the Prosper Schiaffino . This company which had twenty ships in 1939 lost 19 during the Second World War: 13 by torpedoings, mines etc…, and 6 by bombardments while they were at anchor. At the end of the war the Donator was the only survivor. But on November 10, 1945 the freighter flies towards its destiny. He returned from Algeria with a cargo of wine on board. The minesweeping is not finished in the Mediterranean, and Captain Baillet orders his men the utmost attention. The mistral is blowing hard. The boat circled the island of Porquerolles from the south when at 1:10 pm by heavy seas a formidable explosion sounded. The freighter struck a mine, the bow was destroyed, water flooded the ship, and the stern rose rapidly. The 29 sailors could not drop the rowboats and jump into the water. Fortunately an RAF plane witnessed the tragedy. He warns the emergency services who will arrive on the site 4 hours later, saving 27 men, 2 of whom are missing. This final shipwreck sealed the fate of the Schiaffino Company.

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Diving...

stage épave donator

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The Donator is a benchmark for wreckage in the Mediterranean. The dive must be well prepared because the current can be extremely violent at the site. Many divers ignoring this aspect, we made either a surface dive or at the bottom could only contemplate the Donator from a distance without ever reaching it. The wreck is large and well preserved after 67 years underwater. It sits upright on a sandy bottom. The stern is at 51 m while the bow is at 48 m . During the descent it is interesting to make a small stop around 20-25 meters in order to admire the boat as a whole. This could previously be done near the mast rising 25 m from the surface, at the top of which swarms of fish were. Unfortunately since January 2000, this emblem of the Donator has fallen on the port side, leaving just a few meters.

Going around the entire freighter in one go is possible in the absence of power, but not recommended if you want to admire the details of the ship. In fact 2 or 3 dives allow you to really get to know the wreck. You can start the dive with the propeller and the rudder which are the deepest parts of the freighter at 51m. The propeller is huge and gives an idea of ​​the power it took to move the ship and its 1698 tons. Going up the prow you can admire the Ferris wheel . Just behind the rear castle is a spare propeller. Heading forward, we fly over the bridge which is 40 m away. This one no longer exists. Only the sleepers remain, and we can carefully enter the aft hold to admire the engine part at 44 meters and the vats that contained the wine.

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stage épave donator

Still continuing forward, we pass through the passageways of the superstructures at 35 m or rather the cladding that remains. On each side of the building the coat racks rise towards the surface. In the center of the superstructures, we can see the base of the chimney which disappeared during the sinking. It is fun to contemplate the kitchen , a small room where a maximum of 2 divers can enter to see the stoves. Coming out of it on the starboard side, a hole in which only one diver can slide at a time, allows access to the central hold , and then to come out near the mast. After the galley, still heading towards the bow, you reach the crew quarters where you can admire a bathtub with a toilet bowl at its side . Then we tackle the break due to the explosion. We can get into the front hold . In this space, with the headlight off, the vision of blue is fabulous and you really have the impression of being in front of a cinema screen. Seeing the size of the freighter's disembowelment one understands the violence and the speed with which poor Prosper sank. We come out of the hold on the bow . This is placed on the port side. It is quite damaged. You will find load bars, tanks and other unidentifiable scrap.