Zenobia Wreck – The story behind it
The MS Zenobia was a Swedish built Challenger-class RO-RO ferry which left Malmo, Sweden on its maiden voyage on May 4th, 1980. It was bound for Tartous, Syria loaded with 104 trucks of cargo destined for locations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. On the way to Athens the captain noticed steering problems and the Zenobia began listing to port.
On June 4th, the Zenobia was towed out of Larnaca harbour to prevent it from becoming an obstruction, if the worst would happen, and was left at anchor roughly 1.5 – 2km offshore. On June 5th with the Zenobia listing at around 45° the captain dismissed the engineers and maintenance crew and his requests to return it to Larnaca harbour were denied. At around 2:30am on June 7th, 1980 the Zenobia capsized and sank in Larnaca Bay taking an estimated £200 million worth of cargo with it. According to local legend, the Zenobia’s owners never collected the insurance money and no formal investigation has ever been published into its sinking.
One of the best wreck diving sites in the world
Its wrecks now rest on its port side in approximately 42m (138ft.) under water and was named by The Times, and many others, as one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world. With its impressive size and calm surrounding waters, the wrecks are affectionately known as “The Zen” among divers. The experience of diving in a real shipwreck and real reef is inspiring and distinctly different from a ship sunk in order to create an artificial reef. Multiple dives can be completed without seeing all of the areas of the Zenobia. Another reason people come to dive at this Larnaca attraction is the marine life. In the area big groupers, barracudas, nudibranchs, tuna, sometimes turtles, morays, lion fishes, and many more small fishes can be seen. The ship’s cargo was never salvaged so divers can also see this on the seafloor.
There was a truckload of frozen animals on-board when the ship sank so the bones of the animals can supposedly be seen on the second car deck. Additionally, a drinks machine and parts of the carpet can be seen in the restaurant. There is also a full cargo of eggs that lies on the sea bed at 42 meters (138 ft.). Although all hands were safely taken off the ship before it sank, the lives of eight scuba divers have been lost in the intervening years, so caution is advised. There are reputable diving guides that will take divers to different areas of the wreck, depending on capability, and ensure their safety. Needless to say the wreck is a unique choice for underwater photography and lovers of marine life and genuine wrecks.
Enjoy the beauty of this one of a kind underwater wreck on your next visit.