When the Austro-Hungarian cruiser Zenta, the first ship sunk in the First World War, plunged to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea near Petrovac, more than half of the ship’s crew went down with it.
When it set out from the port of Tivat, accompanying the destroyer Ulan on a mission to blockade the Montenegrin port of Bar, the cruiser was already a veteran vessel, pulled out of the reserves. Obsolete, slow and poorly armed, it was an antique among modern ships.
Zenta sank during a battle with the more powerful fleets of France and Britain on August 16, 1914 – and the site of the shipwreck lay undisturbed until divers discovered it in 2001.
Treasure hunters followed soon enough.
Dragan Gacevic, a well-known diver from Herceg Novi and author of the book and documentary TV series Montenegrin Undersea [Podmorje Crne Gore], told CIN-CG/BIRN that thieves soon got to work.
“It is unbelievable that in the meantime someone tried to steal the main compass from the command bridge of the Zenta. That wreck is 73 meters down, and a special gas mixture, the so called trimix, is needed to dive to such depths – which goes to show that these thieves are up for anything,” he said.