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Scuba Diving in Malta, Europe
Dive Site: Um El Faroud
Location: Wied Iz Zurrieq, near Qrendi (location of the Blue Grotto). 240 degrees from entry point
Description: 10,000 ton container ship
Length: 110 metres (361 feet)
Depth: 12 metres (40 feet) to top of the funnel, 25 metres (82 feet) to lowest deck, 36 metres (118 feet) to sea floor
Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
The Faroud is a Libyan wreck that was being worked on in a Maltese dry dock when a gas explosion on board killed 9 Maltese dockworkers. In 1998, 3 years after the accident, it was moved to its current position where it was scuttled for use as a dive site. There is a brass plaque on the wreck as a memorial to those who died. The Faroud is huge at 10,000 tons which looms out of the blue after a lengthy swim from the shore. Unfortunately because of the swim to and from the wreck, this reduces the time on the wreck to about 10 to 15 minutes if you are diving on a single cylinder, especially if there is a slight current to fight to or from the wreck. There are some swim throughs around the bridge and decks and the wheel house can be entered, which leads to the lower decks. The wreck is covered in sea life including scorpion fish, barracuda, sea bream and tuna. There is also a resident Moray in a pipe on the starboard side. If dived with a boat, this dive site would be significantly improved.
Since we dived the wreck back in 2003 the wreck has been torn in half during a large storm, please read the reader review below for further details.
Stop Press. The Faroud is now in two pieces. When I dived it in February 2006 I had been told to expect changes but the gob was well and truly smacked. The front half has now been ripped off and has moved about five metres towards the shore so that the right of the rear section aligns with the left of the front section. Apparently this happened in November when a major storm caused the sea to flood one of the bars next to the Blue Grotto car park about fifty metres above sea level!
Jef Proudfoot, SAA Dive Leader
I swam out to the wreck staying at 6m to conserve air so that I could get as much time on the wreck as possible. Pretty knackered after the 15mins swim through the blue to the wreck, but it is very worth it. Once on the wreck my buddy is dancing all around for lots of stupid photos! Lots of silver fish, possibly sardines when you look up and there was a shoal of jacks on the stern. The wreck is intact and the passageways are nice to swim along. Definitely needed more time to fully look around the wreck so it was a shame to head back, the current helped us back to shore.
Carina Hall, PADI Divemaster
September 2004: This was my first dive below 18m. What a treat! The visibility was superb and the wreck exciting to explore. We saw barracuda at the stern and stood in the bridge.... real food for the imagination! The best dive of the five it took to gain my PADI Advanced Open Water.
Paul Beach, PADI Advanced Open Water
October 2005: Well I had to come back for this one! Still PADI Advanced but with a little more experience now. There were more divers in the water this time but I did manage to dive the forward section of the wreck which I didn't manage last time. A great dive as predicted and it wet my appetite to dive the Rozi the next day.
Never dived on such a big wreck before! Swimming toward the ship I was pretty afraid, so I didn't stop staring at dive guide's fins. Suddenly I saw the biggest thing I've seen underwater. It wasn't such an easy dive, but I think those who really like wreck diving have to experience this. It would be better dived from a boat, swimming takes too much time and air.
Giampiero de Donato, SSI Advanced Diver
Brilliant, a must for any diver. The Um el Faroud on the south coast of Malta is 119m long, 16m berth and is at a depth of 35m. It was sank on 2 Sept 1998. There's a good reef, two caves, drop offs, ledges, gullies and boulders to explore as well has lots of marine life. Anyone wanting a dive buddy in Malta can e-mail me at email@example.com.
Steve Nazran, BSAC sports diver
This is the best wreck that I have dived and I have completed 10 dives in all on the wreck. The last being the best entering the wreck from the deck right below the bridge then going down to the engine room and making our way up to the workshop that still has a lathe in place then to the steam room and up to the mess room and showers finishing at the bridge. When getting out to the wreck I find that a surface swim to the edge of the reef is best. If there is a current drop down to the bottom of the reef at 18 metres, then fin to the wreck descending to about 23 metres arriving at the stern. I use less air this way as the current seems to be lighter at these depths. Penetration of any overhead environment requires special skills and equipment I would not recommend this dive to be made by those not trained in these skills. If you have these skills a great dive.
I've dived the Faroud nearly every year since it was sunk. When I first went there you could stand with one foot either side of the crack where she broke her back. These days you can swim through the hole into the holds! Every time you dive her there's something new to see, except for the 'brass plaque' which some scumbag stole a couple of years ago. The walkway down one side is now beginning to collapse probably because of the 'air mirror' formed from diver's expelled breath. We usually surface swim to the smooth rock beyond the inlet and head straight out dropping down to ten metres to avoid the current. It never seems very far. On the way back we head straight for the reef and turn right to go back to the inlet passing over a heap of old tyres then spotting the mooring ropes for the tourist boats.
Jef Proudfoot, SAA Dive Leader
I am an advanced open water diver. I actually did part of my course (deep and wreck dives) on the wreck and I loved every part of it. I highly recommend this dive site to everyone. It was amazing to swim along then a huge ship appearing out of the gloom. It was great when we were swimming down the sidewalks and entering the ship on her starboard side through a door then swimming up and down the stairs and exiting on her port side.
On the second dive down to the ship we entered the broken hull and swan through and out a broken hatch near the front of the boat. Overall in my two week holiday I did five dives on the Faroud but a total of sixteen dives in all in Malta.
Sam Knight, PADI Advanced Open Water
On a holiday to Malta I dived the site in May 2006 and YES she was torn in two. But it gives you the chance to do some fantastic swim throughs in the hold as well as the engine room and cabins. There is a lot of debris and sharp torn metal peices. But in all a great dive for the careful. I did 3 dives on the Faroud and everytime it felt new. One of the dive centres has also sunk a concrete block with an old dive hood (helmet) which marks the direction of the swim.
Carl Vaz, PADI Advanced OW + Wreck Spec
Dived the Faroud on the 16 Nov 2006. Snorkelled out to her, I go to the gym and swim three times a week but that took some beating. Once I'd caught my breath I headed straight down through the 'hatch' direct into the engine room. I didn't see the lathe, but I was constantly looking at the view through my video camera. Up through the accomodation decks and out, headed forward keeping ten metres off the deck and got to the bows. Our guide uncovered an electric ray, which promptly ignored us. Kept at about ten metres on the way back in. Nice dive.
Did this wreck as part of my deep dive speciality. One word - FANTASTIC. Swam out at 10 - 15m... long swim, started to think we had a bad bearing but it just appeared out the blue after about 10 minutes. It is huge. We dropped down to 36m and swam between the prop and the rudder (put the dive computer on the seabed to get 36.5m). As we came out the other side I looked up to the bow. All you can see is ship.
Entered the ship port side through a hole and proceeded along the corridor, down the stairs and out the crack where the ship has broken apart. NDL's are very tight on this dive so came up shallower and swam back along the deck and towards the stern before starting the long swim back.
This is an excellent dive and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of doing it. Quite an easy dive (AOW) but it is a very long swim so you must be good on air or you will be swimming back before you get there.
I have also been diving this wreck since it was sunk, but I no longer swim out to it. You can approach the boat master on the slipway and he will arrange a boat to take out 4/5 divers for 5 lire. So for what is very little outlay you can get dropped off directly over the wreck giving you a great deal of time/air on the wreck itself rather than sucking most of it up whilst swimmimng out.
Me and a mate dived the Faroud last Oct ('07) as part of out PADI Advanced. It was fascinating and quite spooky to see. We are going back to Malta next week (March '08) and we are hoping to penetrate it more. I recommend it to everyone who are planning to dive in Malta. Happy diving!
Daren Brown, PADI Advanced/Wreck/Photo
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