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CYPRUS“ The massive 172 metre long by 28 metre beam, 10,000-ton MS Zenobia has attracted 100,000s of divers over the past 40 years ”MS ZenobiaRated as one of the top ten wreck dives in the world, this Challenger-class RO-RO ferry was originally built at Malmo in Sweden. On 4 May 1980, she left port on her maiden voyage heading for Tartous in Syria. The Captain reported problems with the steering due to excess water being pumped into her ballast tanks.While at anchor in Athens, checks were made on the computerised systems and the water drained out before she departed on the next leg of her journey.
When the Zenobia reached Larnaca in Cyprus, the problem re-occurred. But this time the condition worsened. Heavily listing to port side, the stricken vessel was towed 1.5km offshore where the captain gave the order to abandon ship. On 7 June 1980 at around 2.30am, she eventually sank. No casualties were recorded.
The massive 172 metre long by 28 metre beam, 10,000-ton MS Zenobia has attracted 100,000s of divers over the past 40 years. She lies totally intact on her port side at a max depth of 42m with a full cargo of 104 articulated trucks and other machinery which has never been salvaged. The estimated worth of her cargo was more than £200 million sterling. Over the years there have been many conspiracy theories regarding her sinking, from being purposely sunk as an insurance scam to sabotage by Israeli and British secret services, which all adds to the ship’s history and intrigue.
The wreck is so big and so diverse visiting divers can spend an entire week exploring the Zen. Depths vary from 16m at the shallowest point on the starboard side rail to 42m deep inside the cargo holds. On the outside popular features include the lifeboats, prop, winches and a number of trucks either precariously hanging from deck chains or lying on the sea floor. The wreck also attracts a huge variety of marine life, from colourful nudibranchs to very friendly grouper.
For experienced technical divers, the wreck offers some serious penetration through the bridge, restaurant, laundry room and down pitch-black corridors and stairways deep into the engine room and the steering control room. Each deck level houses a treasure trove of trucks, with cargoes varying from children’s sweets, eggs and meat to expensive Persian carpets. This should definitely be a must-do wreck on every divers’ bucket list!
For more information on Cyprus diving: www.visitcyprus.com Did you know?The seabed is at 42m and the highest point is at 16m with visibility reaching 40 metres. Few currents and warm water it makes an ideal site for all qualified divers.Essential informationLocation: Larnaca, Cyprus Depth: 16m-42m Diver level: Recreational to advanced