Poredbeno Pomorsko Pravo (Dec 2012)

The legal situation of the wreck of the ironclad ''Re d'Italia'' sunk in the 1866 battle of Vis (Lissa)

  • Vladimir-Đuro Degan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 51, no. 166
pp. 1 – 10


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There is an allegation that wrecks of warships remain the property of the flag State wherever located and notwithstanding the passage of time since their sinking, unless expressly abandoned by the flag State. In this light the author discusses the situation of the wrecks of ironclads “Re d’Italia” and Palestro sunk by the Austrian Navy in the 1866 Naval Battle near the island of Vis which is now the territory of Croatia. Upon sinking these wrecks became the property of Austria as its booty in that war. By way of succession of States they are now the property of the Republic of Croatia. Therefore Italy as the former flag State has no entitlement to these wrecks. Besides, both Croatia and Italy are actually parties to the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. On behalf of its Article 12 Croatia has the exclusive right to regulate and authorize activities on these two wrecks, because they are situated on the bottom of its territorial sea.