Syrna is located in Greece
Coordinates: 36°20.33′N 26°40.38′E / 36.33883°N 26.67300°E / 36.33883; 26.67300
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
855 xx
Area code(s)22470
Vehicle registrationΚΧ, ΡΟ, ΡΚ

Syrna (Greek: Σύρνα; anciently, Syrnos (Ancient Greek: Σύρνος)[1] or Sirna or Agios Ioannis, is a small island about 4 km2 in area to the south-east of Astypalaia in the Dodecanese group of Greek islands, situated to the south-east of the country. It is mostly covered with juniper and garrigue scrub. The few inhabitants raise livestock, catch fish and practice arable agriculture. The island is important for migrant and breeding seabirds and raptors, including Cory's shearwater, yelkouan shearwater and Eleonora's falcon.[2]


A shipwreck of the late Roman period (2nd century CE) was found using sonar technology near the island by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in 2000.[3]

On 7 December 1946, the ship Athina Rafiah (originally the SS Athena) carrying Jewish immigrants to Israel was wrecked in the Agiou Soassin Bay, on the south coast of Syrna, and more than seven hundred survivors came ashore on the island. The British minesweeper HMS Providence, working with HMS Chevron, HHMS Themistocles and HHMS Aegean managed to rescue the survivors.[4]

An extra dimension to the incident is added in a reminiscence by Dr Raymond Mills, who, with a medical team, and Lawrence Durrell, was sent from Rhodes on the Greek warship Kriti (originally HMS Hursley) to assist the sick and wounded and return them to hospital on Rhodes. Mills attests to the added intervention of “the flagship of the Palestine Patrol, HMS Javelin, together with two minesweepers”, and records that eight of the refugees had perished in the aftermath of the wreck and had been buried on the island.[5]


  1. ^ Richard Talbert, ed. (2000). Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. Princeton University Press. p. 61, and directory notes accompanying. ISBN 978-0-691-03169-9.
  2. ^ "GR165 Sirna island and nearby islets" Hellenic Ornithological Society. Retrieved 20 Jan 2009
  3. ^ "Cooperation of the Hellenic Centre of Marine Research (HCMR) – with the Department of Underwater Antiquities (EEA)" Hellenic Centre of Marine Research. Retrieved 20 Jan 2009 Archived 11 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "HMS Providence, 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla" Archived 2 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 20 Jan 2009
  5. ^ ‘With Durrell on Rhodes, 1945-47’, by Raymond Mills, in Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 33, No. 3, Lawrence Durrell Issue, Part 1 (Autumn, 1987), pp. 312–316.