Wreck dive from Open Water level +
The P31 patrol boat is one of the few wreck dives accessible to student divers, the dive is only 18m. The former East-German Kondor I class patrol boat was built in 1969 at Wolgast, Germany and performed minesweeping duties, but was also possibly engaged in fisheries protection, border control or formed part of the German Democratic Republic’s logistical fleet at the time.
Later it was purchased by the Maltese government and transferred to Malta, where the Armed Forces (AFM) used it to carry out her duties over the Maltese territories. P31 was responsible for many offshore missions, including patrolling the Continental Shelf, boarder patrols, anti-contraband missions and numerous rescue works. After over a decade of operations P31 became outdated and beyond financial repair, so it was decided by the AFM that the vessel had to be decommissioned.
Scuttled off the small Maltese island of Comino
P31 was announced to be scuttled off the small Island of Comino on the 24th of August 2009, immediately becoming one of the major diving news. Within hours the word was out. My group of 20 divers (clients, friends and diving buddies) was organized to see and even dive this brand new attraction. The scuttling project was pushed by the Malta Maritime Foundation, a local NGO that promotes diving around the Maltese Islands. However the Malta Tourism Authority provided technical and financial support for this project, as well as arranging the transfer of the patrol boat P31 after decommissioning.
At around midday the boat was fully submerged & left the surface in a cascade of bubbles
In accordance with EU regulations, extensive maintenance was carried out before the boat was sunk, removing traces of oil and other toxic material which could have damaged the marine environment. As far as i’m concerned, such wrecks will acquire an enormous value towards the economy, much more, then if they were to be disposed as scrap. At around midday the boat was fully submerged & left the surface in a cascade of bubbles. A large number of divers could be seen rushing into their dive-kit to jump into the water in order dive the Malta’s latest wreck first.
Experienced divers can also enjoy the Comino wreck
The ex-patrol boat P31; is now marked with the special marker buoy for an easy access and to keep boats away from it, while divers are under the water. It is rather convenient to anchor next to the wreck and go down the rope.The 52 meter long and 7 meter wide vessel lying at 19 meters depth on clear white sands makes this wreck a great dive for both beginner and advanced divers. And underwater visibility is around 50 meters here. You can even see the wreck from the surface, while snorkeling!
The P31 patrol boat is one of the few wreck dives accessible to student divers, the dive is only 12-18m deep.
It’s highly recommended by us to explore the wreck on the outside part first. A lot of openings have been cut larger and doors removed, so even the penetration can be carried out safely, if you are properly trained.The P31 is now a wreck for the diving industry and also aids the eco-system as it has increased the small fish population. The new artificial reef has encouraged the local marine life to settle here. Damsel fish, silver bream, lizard fish, sting & electric rays can be spotted around the wreck.Due to the shallow depth of the wreck, one can spend a lot of time without entering into deco… Today we can definitely say, that P31 took an important place alongside Malta’s other magnificent wrecks