They didn’t find the SS Armenia, but U.S. and Ukrainian oceanographers and scientists did come across two other vessels submerged in the deep and murky waters of the Black Sea.
The oceanographic survey ship USNS Pathfinder, under Military Sealift Command, started searching Sept. 7 for the Soviet-flagged hospital ship SS Armenia, sunk in 1941 by the German Luftwaffe, officials said.
Using a remotely operated vehicle equipped with underwater video capabilities, teams instead managed to identify the German coastal submarine U-18, and the RUS Prut, a Russian minelayer sunk in 1914 during World War I, U.S. officials said.
At the request of Ukrainian officials, civilian surveyors from the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, Ukrainian sailors, surveyors and historians, and a team of civilian oceanographers from the U.S.-based Institute for Exploration searched waters at depths ranging from about 300 feet to 3,300 feet for the hospital ship, sunk during World War II with 7,000 people on board.
"The sea floor is a resting place for brave sailors, regardless of the country they come from," Serge Gulyar, head of Underwater Physiology Department at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, said in a statement released by the U.S. Navy.
But the high-tech, 328.5-foot-long Pathfinder had only three weeks to conduct the search, and has ended the quest because of rules spelled out in the Montreux Convention, a treaty that restricts the time vessels foreign to the nations that rim the Black Seat can spend there.
"I am happy with the amount of work that we were able to accomplish during this survey," IFE chief scientist Katy Croff said in a statement. "During this exploration we discovered many sonar targets that we hope to investigate and identify during future projects."
The ship finished its mission Tuesday.