In this week’s travel feature Shaun Yeo checks out four intentional wrecks on the Maltese coastline.
By Shaun Yeo
Malta has always had strong connections with Gibraltar. Many Gibraltarian families have ancestors which originated from Malta. Walking around some of the towns, familiar surnames can be seen on local shop names and companies.
The Island which is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, was a strategic point during World War II, the same as Gibraltar, the British had the advantage of observing all the vessels that passed through the Straits and Mediterranean. Malta was heavily bombed during the war, and many wrecks litter her seas, making it a mecca for wreck divers. The waters are warm and crystal clear, and almost no current can be found, and the same weather as Gibraltar on land.
Many of the World War II Wrecks in Malta are quite deep for recreational divers so the Maltese Government in association with local divers and clubs, have sunk many large wrecks in shallower depths, which are also attracting many sports/recreational divers to Malta. The marine life in Malta is almost nil, the amount of fish you can see whilst on a dive here can be counted with one hand. This is the result of many years of overfishing in the area.
Some of my favourite purpose sunk wrecks are; Um El Faroud, Rozi, P29 and Karwela.
Um El Faroud
The Um EL Faroud was a Libyan Tanker of 10, 000 tons! Whilst carrying out maintenance works in 1995 a gas explosion occurred, and nine shipyard workers lost their lives in this accident. The tanker suffered extensive damaged and was docked in Valletta Harbour for three years, before it was decided that she was best served as an artificial reef and she was scuttled in 1998. The wreck is massive! She is a very impressive wreck to visit in Malta.
Motor Vessel Rozi, was a Tugboat built in 1958 in Bristol, UK. In 1981 she was sold to Malta for Tugboat duties. After being decommissioned, she was also scuttled as part of Malta’s Artificial Reef project in 1992. The wreck is intact, and nearby you can find her anchor on the seabed too.
P29, one of my favourites! Her main feature is the gun which is still in place and can be found at the wreck’s bow. The P29 was a German minesweeper which was sold to Malta in 1997. The Maltese used her as a Patrol Boat until she was decommissioned and scuttled in 2007, as part of the ongoing Artificial Reef Projects in Malta.
The most beautiful wooden flooring and staircase can be found inside this wreck. The Karwela was an old tourist ferry that operatde around the Grand Harbour. She was scuttled in the nearby Island of Gozo in 2006. The remains of an old Volkswagen Beetle Car can be seen on the sun-deck of the wreck.
These wrecks have all been purposely sunk, but having completed an Advanced Technical Diving Course last week in Malta itself, I will be going back in the very near future to visit the much deeper wrecks from World War II. An amazing way to see history, an underwater museum.
To read more about Shaun’s travels and diving expeditions check out his blog: www.shaunyeophotography.com