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Diving at ship wreck UM-El-Faroud
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|lars, © Author: Lars Hemel
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The Um El Faroud is a 10,000 ton container ship of 110 meter long originally build in England and sold as a Libyan oil tanker. She was being repaired for over three years in Valetta harbor when a gas explosion finally sank it. Nine Maltese dockyard workers died in the tragic accident and got a memorial brass plate with their names placed above the bridge. After the explosion they removed doors and sank it in front of the Blue Grotto. Unfortunately its final resting place on the ocean floor was more than 200 meters away from the grotto. It can be found by swimming across the valley until you finally see the back of the tanker. Remember that it is a very long swim and your time on the wreck will be significantly reduced. Try to get there by boat as surface swims are quite dangerous with all the boats in the area.
The wreck can be penetrated but because of its age the ship hasn't found its final resting place yet and is still moving and making noises in the currents. Entering should only be done by properly trained wreck divers. She lies on a sandy seabed at 32 meters and is one of the biggest ships in the Maltese waters. The bridge and funnel are located at 15 meter while its deck is at 25 meter. A large propeller can be found in the white sand and it is possible to swim up staircases. Have you ever swum up a staircase? Mirrors can be formed by trapped air on the ceiling which gives it a very special look. There is also an air pocket where it is possible to stick your head in and to inhale the trapped air. Everybody does this so don't expect to find high levels of oxygen there. Purge some of your fresh air into the pocket before inhaling.
It is a big ship and one dive is certainly not enough to cover the whole area. A heavy storm in 2005 has broken the wreck in two parts. She is still quite new but has already become the home of many fish. These include some pelagic species such as amberjack and tuna. Squid and barracuda are quite common at the stern while the port side houses silversides, parrots and sea breams. Whether it is pelagic or reef fish, you can see about all species available in the Maltese waters. Some more examples are triggers, mullets, salemas but also many species of algae, jellies and sea grasses. Fish life is in one word phenomenal with many species which like it when you bring bread.
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Messages from readers:
I dived the el faroud twice a year or so ago and it stands out as one of my personal favorites out of over 500 dives worldwide! Can't say what made it so special for me, but its an atmospheric dive in stunning clear waters. Looking up towards the surface from a position on the deck, through schools of fish with the suns rays making fantastic visual effects remains vivid in my memory.
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Take a look at all the pictures!