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Jellyfish, Malta - Courtesy of Rik Vercoe

Scuba Diving in Malta, Europe

Dive Site: X127 (L9) - also known as the Carolita

Location: Manoel Island, Valletta

Description: X Lighter

Length: 23 metres approx (75 feet)

Depth: 6 - 22 metres (20 - 72 feet)

Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)

Rating: ***

The Carolita was bombed during WWII whilst moored near some submarines in Valletta harbour which were probably the bombs target. The wreck now lies on a bank at a 45 degree angle and requires a short swim from the entry point on Manoel Island. The visibility may be low, but the floor is still interesting as it is littered with bottles and cans and World War II debris, such as bullets. On the wreck there is a central section in which the engine can be seen. Other features include several sets of ladders and the obvious blast damage to the port side. It is necessary to criss-cross over the deck in order to avoid ascending too quickly and care must be taken in order not to disturb the silt. There is a surprising abundance of sea life, including octopus. Remember to look above your head as large shoals of fish may pass over.

Funnily enough I like the Carolita despite all the drawbacks. The viz is not usually great and Manoel Island has a reputation. One dive guide once said to me "They'll steal the skid marks off your underpants". They've now put a security guard on site!

The dive itself is fairly surreal, a grey lunar hillside littered with over half a century's detritus. You'll find old beds, a typewriter, a car, countless bottles, a toilet, in fact a microcosm of the Maltese psyche. The wreck lies on the slope bow up and is covered with fish and numerous other residents. If a big ship passes up the creek the noise will send you scuttling for the bottom and somewhere to hide. Altogether an interesting dive.

Jef Proudfoot, SAA Dive Leader

Divers who come to Malta wreck diving are usually aware about the Um El Faroud, Xlendi ferry, HMS Maori, Imperial Eagle or Blenheim Bomber, but a lot of them don't know this little, shallow, vertical wreck. Carolita is an easy navigation dive and is full of WW II feelings. Thanks to the Maltese Authority after the war, you can see beds, bullets and armchairs under the water by the wreck. The visibility is poor but the shore of the dive site is like an open museum, watching the old hospital building and the old harbour before diving is fascinating.

Tamer Durak, PADI MSDT

I am a BSAC and PADI professional Instructor with over 8000 logged dives. I am also Maltese. This is a wreck that I like doing. It is a very underrated dive site.

Recent extensive research shows it to be an X-lighter built around 1915 for supplying water to troops on the Dardanellas. Some 300 X-lighters were built to land troops, and this was one of 200 converted for either water or oil. It is the only wreck of its type and the only one surviving intact from 1915.

Antonio Anastasi

I am from India on a holiday and dived the site in May 2006. Though I didn't think much of it on my first dive out of 10, I went back again and found the site fascinating. Beds, bottles (old and new), some broken amphoras can also be seen. I even found and left back the 'glass hypodermic' syringe which was lying in between rocks near the old hospital.

Carl Vaz, PADI Advanced Open Water

Back in the 1960s as an underwater photographer at the University of Miami Marine Lab I was on assignment to photograph some modifications made on some US Navy destroyers in Malta. Some British EOD divers stationed in Malta to clear up WW11 explosives told me they had seen a few amphorae in Xlendi Bay in Gozo. After my assignment I ferried my scuba gear over and rented a rowboat and rowed out in the bay to where the UW terrain drops off to over 50m.

I followed a sprinkling of amphorae and at 50m saw a section of intact roofing tile from a Roman era shipwreck slumped against the cliff face. In the next couple of days I recovered two amphorae but finally was discovered by the Malta authorities and had to turn over the stuff I had brought to my hotel room in Malta. I read that since then all the artifacts from additional Roman wrecks at the site have been recovered to prevent looting. I could not use the Bolex cameras to take pictures because of the logistics of transporting all my gear on buses and the ferry. Later I chartered a sailboat out of Malta to dive Skerki Banks off Sicily - those were some great adventures!

Ed Fisher

There is a lot of misinformation above, for the correct details about this wreck go to my web site www.xlighter.org

Dave Mallard | 23/08/09

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