Gozo, Malta's smaller sister island, has got a new dive site. On 26 Aug the former tanker was scuttled to become the latest addition to the islands' growing collection of artificial reefs.
The 60m-long, former tanker Hephaestus, which was scuttled at Xatt l-Aħmar just 30m off Gozo’s south-east coast on 29 August had run aground on rocks in St Paul’s Bay in Malta three and half years ago and subsequently written off.
The wreck sat stranded there for six months before being towed to the port of Valletta. Eventually, the tanker was thoroughly cleaned and prepared for sinking before being towed to be sunk off Gozo. Here the wreck now lies upright at a depth of 40m, close to three other artificial reefs: The Karwela, Xlendi and Cominoland.
The operation was handled by the Malta Tourism Authority in collaboration with the Professional Diving School (PDSA) and the Gozo ministry.
Diving the wreck
Our good Polish colleagues from Divers21 went to witness the scuttling and were among the first to dive the new wreck. They reported that, "The greatest depth near it is around the stern, where at the bottom, the computers will show us 47m. Therefore, we can boldly go to the 'Hephaestus' even as recreational divers."
I am not so sure about the "boldly" part as it appears to be a tad too deep for entry-level or novice divers. Having Advanced Open Water or the equivalent thereof, or even better, such as Deep Diver or Advanced Nitrox qualification, would be required and certainly safer.
Tourism minister Clayton Bartolo stated that the new shipwreck will attract more high-quality tourists and divers, Newsbook.com.mt reported.
“Diving tourism is an important niche, in which we continue to invest. Moreover, it will also attract more tourists to Gozo,” he told the outlet.