Sunday, January 06, 2008


Frigate Ertuğrul to be floated 116 years after its demise


Turkish Daily News
January 06, 2008

The Ertuğrul, which sank in 1890 off the coast of Japan, will be floated on the 116th anniversary of its demise. A project will be carried out in Japan to find the ruins of the vessel and revive the memories of 550 sailors who lost their lives in the tragic accident.

Excavation and documentary work to find the ruins of the frigate Ertuğrul, which sank off the coast of Japan in 1890 in a severe typhoon, will start this month, the Doğan News Agency reported.

A press conference was held to promote the work to float the Ertuğrul, which set sail from Istanbul in 1889 but sank with its crew in the rocks of Kashinozaki off the coast of Ooshima Island. The project will begin with contributions from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology in Bodrum (INA), Yapı Kredi Retirement Partnership and the Turkish Foundation of Nautical Archaeology.

At the meeting, INA official Tufan Turanlı and Yapı Kredi Retirement Deputy General Manager Dr. Bülent Eriş provided information about the project being carried out in remembrance of the 550 Turkish sailors who died in the disaster. Turanlı stated that the aim of the project was to revive the memories of 550 Turkish martyrs and 69 survivors both in Turkey and Japan as well as to find the ruins of the frigate and float it to the surface.

“The first stage of research will be carried out by a team including the most important names of nautical archaeology from Turkey and the world between Jan. 8 and Jan. 27. The Ertuğrul and her sailors have been forgotten over time and have gone down in history. The aim of the Ertuğrul project is to commemorate these heroic sailors whose bodies are 10,000 kilometers from their country, and at the same time to serve as a tool for the improvement of the friendship of both countries that started during this disaster. During this project, a survey and inventory of the area where the frigate sank will be conducted for the first time and a detailed map will be prepared. In the second stage of the excavation, the frigate will be completely floated to the surface and exhibited in the museum next to the ‘Ertuğrul Monument' built on the coast.”

Telling the tragic story of the Ertuğrul, Turanlı said: “The most important stage of this project is the Web site, which has recently been created. All details about the project and the tragic story of the frigate can be reached through this site,” adding that the research to be carried out Jan. 8-27 in Japan would be broadcast every day on the TRT 2 TV station during the news at 5:00 p.m.

Turanlı, who will manage the archaeological excavations with Cemal Pulak, stated that U.S. and Japanese archaeologists and historians would join the excavation team. “In the documentary film there will be information to be provided by the relatives of martyrs and survivors. This is why the crew list of the Ertuğrul is shown on the Web site. We call on everyone who has information about martyrs and survivors to reach INA in Bodrum via the Web site or the phone number .”

Yapı Kredi Retirement Deputy General Manager Eriş said the primary goal was to find the Ertuğrul and float it to the surface. “But it will be made clear after the dives and evaluations of the nautical team. This work will revive the memories of 550 sailors who became martyrs many years ago and will hand down their memories to future generations with a documentary and a book. We can define this project as a meeting of Turkish people with history.”

Eriş also noted that Turkish Airlines had provided transportation support and that the International Reson company had provided technical support for the project.

The Ertuğrul frigate incident:

The frigate Ertuğrul was sent by Sultan Abdülhamit II to the emperor of Japan as a goodwill visit. The frigate set sail on July 14, 1889 and, after sailing for more than a year, arrived in Japan in June 1890. On the return voyage, the Ottoman frigate sank on the 16th day due to a severe typhoon. She foundered on the dangerous sharp rocks off the coast of Wakayama in southwest Japan. The tragedy resulted in the loss of 533 sailors, of whom 50 were officers. Only six officers and 63 sailors survived.

There now stands in Ooshima, Wakayama Prefecture, near the lighthouse, the Ertuğrul Monument, built in memory of those pioneers of Turkish-Japanese friendship. The compassion demonstrated by the Japanese people in saving and returning the survivors of the crew of the Ertugrul to Istanbul has left a lasting memory of gratitude in the minds of the Turkish people. Thus, this tragic accident became a solemn symbol of friendship between the two nations.


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