Former East German Boat Scuttled Between Tugboat Wrecks in Marsaskala
A decommissioned Armed Forces of Malta P-33 patrol boat has been sunk as a new attraction for scuba divers in a joint effort by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and Professional Diving School Association of Malta, Gozo and Comino (PDSA).
The 23-metre long Bremse class vessel was commissioned by the East German Navy in 1972, where she served before being sold to Malta in 1992 following the 1990 reunification of Germany. P-33 was bought together with her sister ship P-32 and two Kondor class minesweepers, the P-30 and P-31 – the latter already a popular wreck dive off Comino – before being decommissioned in 2005.
Plans to sink P-33 were first mooted in 2012, before the site outside Gozo's Marsalforn Bay was rejected due to 'environmental concerns'. The P-33 has instead been sunk off the southeast coast of Malta's main island at Zonqor Point in Marsaskala, and now lies at a recreational depth of 20m between the popular wrecks of the tugboats St Michael and Number 10 (aka Melita).
The sinking on 31 July was aided by a €250,000 investment from the Maltese government to kindle interest in the Maltese diving sector, one of the country's most popular tourist activities, hit hard by the coronavirus travel restrictions. In a separate announcement, Malta's offer to tourists of a €100 voucher towards the cost of scuba diving holidays has already been put on hold after reaching its target of 7,500 applicants.