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Wreck Diving – Lust For Rust…

by Mikela Borg

by Mikela Borg

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Wreck Diving – lust for rust… historical museum underneath the waves.

Wreck diving is synonymous with diving in Malta. Due to the island’s strategic, geographic position, throughout history, the island was a stepping stone for other nations, a naval base and an asset. Relics from several rulers, sieges and wars can be found all around the islands, and on its seabed. Shipwrecks, aircraft and cargo are mementos of the past, memories of tragic stories and ancient, discoveries. Historic shipwrecks, such as the famous WWI SS Polynesien and World War II wreck HMS Southwold, are windows to the past for technical divers. Wrecks can be enjoyed at several depths making wreck diving available to all levels of divers, several of which are easily accessible from shore. Decommissioned vessels turned into divers’ attraction can be found all around the islands at different depths. These scuttled shipwrecks have become artificial reefs since they provide nursing grounds and shelter to marine life. Most shipwrecks can be easily accessed from shore, such as the 120-meter oil tanker, the Um el Faroud, one of the most popular wrecks in Malta, with good reason.

 

 

Shipwrecks for all levels of Scuba Divers.

PADI Open Water or equivalent: Malta offers wreck diving to all levels of divers, even first-level courses such as the Open Water certified to dive up to 18-m.

HMS Maori: Located in the Capital City of Malta, Valletta, the HMS Maori is one of the few remaining shipwrecks from WWII. Situated below the city walls, the wreckage dates back to the forties. The Tribal-Class British Destroyer became wreckage when a parachute flare was dropped by the enemy. The shipwreck rests on a sloppy sandy bottom, at a maximum depth of 15-m. Set in shallow waters in the harbour, Her best days are far behind her. This wreck endured several storms that resulted in her deterioration throughout the years. Nevertheless, the area is still a nurturing grounds for a variety of fish mainly groupers and the occasional seahorse.

PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent. Wreck diving for divers certified to dive up to 30 meters. This dive is for certified Advanced Divers, it involves a mid-water swim, please be wary of sea currents at this location.  The wreck sits at a bottom of 36meters. One of the most famous wrecks is the prestigious Um El Faroud. The 120 meters Libyan Oil Tanker, was involved in an explosion, that took the lives of nine dockyard workmen. This ill-fated accident shock Malta and its people, several recounts the trembling walls & shaking windows as the explosion in the dockyard took place. In 1998 the vessel was made safe for divers and scuttled in Wied Iz-Zurrieq, also referred to as Blue Grotto. The shipwreck sits majestically on a sandy bottom at circa 36meters. A torrential storm broke the ship separating the bow from the stern. Those who have

Wreck Diving Speciality certification.  Can explore the guts of this shipwreck. The engine room, bridge and accommodation are at the stern of the vessel, the cargo section is divided into four centre tanks and four wing tanks on each side. The deck of the mighty Um el Faroud is home to various species of fish, amberjacks are ironically found looking for prey around the chimney of the tanker.

PADI Deep Speciality or equivalent:  For those with a calling for the deep, & have invested in the Deep Diver Speciality or equivalent, qualified to dive up to 40meters, there are some special places for you.

The Bristol Blenheim Bomber.  Planes beneath the waves, The Bristol Blenheim Bomber Mk 1V was attacked during a flight leaving from Malta to the Middle East. The plane was hit by the enemy causing the propeller to spin off. The Blenheim Bomber now lies on the sandy bottom at 42 meters. It has endured her fair share of storms while remaining mostly intact with the wings and engines mostly intact.

Technical Diving: This one is for the big boys & girls, this wreck is beyond recreational diving limits. Please only consider diving this if you are qualified to do so.  Le Polynesien, locally known as ‘tal-Platti’, which means the ‘Plate ship’, is a 152-meter French-built freighter. Embarked with 252 passengers the ship used to shuttle from France to Australia. During a convoy to Malta in 1918, she was torpedoed by a submarine, causing the vessel to sink on the spot(in front of our dive centre). The vessel is lying on its port side, with depths ranging from 53m-65m…
Its nickname is derived from the fact that numerous artefacts can be found on this wreck- mainly porcelain plates, glass bottles and other china. The plates are embossed with the vessel’s emblem – a blue anchor. There are two cannons intact and covered in coral crustaceans, on the deck & bow of the Polynesien. Other artefacts include bathtubs, light fixtures and bed frames.

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