April 19, 2024
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Scuba Diving in Malta: The Best Wreck Dives

Lying pretty bang in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta has become an increasingly popular scuba diving destination over the last decade.  And, while there are a lot of diving centres providing courses to beginners, a lot of people choose to head to the island to explore the wrecks.  From cargo vessels and submarines, to aircraft and WW2 battleships, there are tons of different dive sites just waiting to be explored.

Below is a list of some of the best wreck dives you will find when scuba diving in Malta. It’s worth keeping in mind that a lot of these are only suitable for experienced divers.  I always recommend hiring a reputable dive guide when visiting a dive site for the first time.

Scuba Diving in Malta Wrecks

Um El Faroud

Um El Faroud was a Libyan oil tanker that was built in 1969 and operated between Libya and Italy.  On the 3rd February 1995, it was docked at a Valetta dry dock for maintenance work.  While there, one of the fuel tanks exploded, which tragically killed nine dock workers.  Due to the amount of structural damage the vessel received, it was determined that she couldn’t be fixed.  So, in September 1998, the tanker was deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef.

The wreck of Um El Faroud now lies around a ten minutes swim away from the shore, with a maximum depth of 34 metres.  Due to the depth it is best only attempted by experienced scuba divers, and those with their deep diving certification.  That said, it’s an incredibly impressive dive and one of the best scuba diving sites in Malta.  I recommend visiting it over two dives to truly experience its magnitude.

HMS Maori

The HMS Maori was commissioned in 1931 as a tribal class destroyer – the last one to go to war in the Mediterranean.  Initially posted on North Sea controls, she joined a convoy escort in search of the Bismarck in January, 1941.  Impressively, she even picked up some of the survivors of the famous German battleship.

However in February 1941, while anchored at Malta’s Dockyard Creek, she was hit by a bomb and sank.  In 1945, she was stripped of her armaments, re-floated, and laid to rest at Marsamxetto Harbour.

The HMS Maori is the shallowest wreck dive in Malta, and as such is suitable for inexperienced divers.  It has a maximum depth of 16 metres, with the upper structure being around 9 metres deep.  The shallow waters surrounding the HMS Maori have led to it being damaged further by storms. However, many say that it is one of the more interesting wrecks for scuba divers in Malta.  It has lots of swim throughs for divers to investigate, and plenty of marine life due to it forming an artificial reef.  This wreck can be accessed from the shore.

Patrol Boat 31

Patrol Boat 31 is the only wreck dive found in the waters surrounding Comino – the island slightly north of Malta.  She was a former Maritime Squadron patrol boat for the Maltese Armed Forces and was deliberately sunk in 2009 to provide an artificial reef and dive site.  This is another wreck that is suitable for all levels of divers, with a maximum depth of 25 metres.  The top of the ship is just seven metres below the surface.

Because of its relatively shallow depth, Patrol Boat 31 is often used as a training dive for those taking their Wreck Diving course.  It’s still an interesting dive for experienced divers, however.  Many areas of the boat are open and there are lots of swim throughs to explore.  It’s also a popular site for free divers in Malta, and even snorkelers can get a decent view of it from the surface.

Patrol Boat 31’s sister ship, the PB29 was also scuttled and can be found in Cirkewwa.

Wreck Diving in Malta

Blenheim Bomber

The Blenheim Bomber was built by an airplane company in Bristol and served in the British RAF.  A light, twin engine bomber that typically carried a crew of three, it was attacked in December, 1941, while on a mission to Greece.  With a damaged port engine, the airplane turned back to Malta but unfortunately didn’t make it.  The pilot was forced to ditch the boat in the sea, although all crew members did survive.

The wreck of the Blenheim Bomber can be found around 500 metres from the shore of Xrobb l-Ghagin on Malta’s east coast.  The wreck is quite deep – just over 40 metres – and is therefore only suitable for experienced divers.  Those visiting this dive site will be able to view the Bomber’s engines and wings as well as the bent propeller.  The rear fuselage has broken away from the main wreckage and can be found a few metres away.

The Mosquito Fighter Bomber – another airplane wreck – can be found not far from the Blenheim Bomber.  Ideal if you want to visit multiple airplane wrecks during one day.

HMS Stubborn

The last wreck dive on this list is the HMS Stubborn.  This is the shallowest submarine wreck dive in Malta, although it still rests at a rather deep 56 metres.  Because of this, it’s only suitable for experienced technical divers.

The HMS Stubborn was a British submarine that measured 7 metres wide and 66 metres long.  Armed to the teeth, she had the power to launch torpedoes.  She also had a 20mm machine gun mounted on her tower, and a 3 inch gun just forward of the conning tower.  The HMS Stubborn was deliberately sunk by the Royal Navy in 1946 after losing her tail fin due to being hit by a depth charge.  She was subsequently used for training practice.

This wreck is a really impressive sight for those who have the skills to visit her.  That said, she can only be dived from a boat, and mixed gas cylinders are advised.

Have you visited any of the wreck sites surrounding Malta?  I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments.

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