Plan a dive on the Um El Faroud wreck using our 3D wreck photo tour
The Um El Faroud is one of the Mediterranean’s most popular wreck dives. Awesome in size, yet accessible from the shore in most conditions. In 1998, it was sunk following a tragic accident during a refit that killed 9 dock workers. It now provides a challenging site in what has become one of Europe’s premier wreck diving locations.
*UPDATED* This 3d wreck now uses the new functionality and has even more detail.
Um El Faroud wreck information:
The Um El Faroud wreck can be found in Wied iz-Zurrieq, near Qrendi. It is 110 metres long, weighs 10,000 tonnes, beam is 15.50 metres and the height of the vessel from keel to funnel top is approximately 22 metres with a maximum depth of 36m. This site is dived most when other sites are dangerous since it is sheltered by the valley of Wied iz-Zurrieq.
Um El Faroud was built in 1969 at Smith Dock Co. Ltd., Middlesborough England and was owned by the General National Maritime Transport Company, Tripoli (GNMTC). It had been operating between Italy and Libya carrying refined fuel up to 1st February 1995. On the 3rd February 1995 it was docked at No.3 Dock of Malta Dry-docks. During the night of the 3rd February an explosion occurred in No.3 centre tank and 9 shipyard workers lost their lives. The vessel suffered structural deformation and was considered following inspection and survey, a total write off. It had been occupying this dock ever since the explosion until it was decided that the best option to utilize its remaining value was to scuttle her as a diving attraction and to start a new life as an artificial reef.
The diving community chose Wied iz-Zurrieq as the best site to accommodate this vessel. An Impact assessment was carried out over the seabed, and the site was marked. On 2nd September 1998 mt Um El-Faroud was towed out off Grand Harbour en route towards its final destination. After the ship was anchored on location and kept in position by means of a small MDD tug, Um El-Faroud went under after nearly a four hour wait for the ship to fill up with sea water from 8 purposely fitted 4” sea valves. This scene was witnessed by thousands of people who occupied vantage points on the shore who undoubtedly paid their last respects to those 9 Maltese workers who died. [Source: CSAC Malta]
Diving the Wreck
The wreck is dived mostly from the shore, specifically a small jetty just down from Wied iz-Zurrieq. Divers need to swim out about 150m on a bearing of 240* whilst watching out for boat traffic. A surface swim can be very tiring here so decending down a few metres may be an easier option; a local dive club have also sunk a small statue of a old diving helmet half way to aid navigation on that bearing. This swim can considerably reduce available time to explore the wreck itself, so multiple dives, a twinset or enriched gas mix is advised if you want to explore the wreck in its entirety.
The bearing will point you towards the stern of the wreck, which in good visibility can be an amazing sight as it comes into view. The intact propeller and rudder can be found at a depth of 36m and is an ideal photo opportunity, the deck level is around 25m and begins with the bridge superstructure. For divers keen on wreck penetration the Um El Faroud offers a lot of passages with relatively easy exits. Such passages include the bridge hatches, cabins and galleys, hatches on the hull just below deck and for the more adventurous, stairs down to the engine room, a shaft that goes straight down from behind the chimney right to the engine room, and a passage from the engine room to a frontal compartment which leads above deck and out of the bridge front. The holds are easily accessible following the blast that wrenched open the deck when the vessel was still in the docks. [Source: CSAC Malta]
Just forward of the bridge superstructure the wreck has split in half during winter storms in 2006. This now makes the wreck a much more interesting dive as it offers much easier access into the forawrd holds. The forward half is now twisted around 20* north towards the shore, and the area inbetween the two sections is prone to strong currents. Heading forward, the deck itself is fairly sparce apart from the large access hatch into the hold a third of the way along. Reaching the bow you'll find a raised deck with access into the bow, which can be exited by heading straight forward and vertically up a ladder shaft onto the bow deck, making a nice swim through. The bow itself has a large anchor winch and mooring bollards, another common photo spot for visiting divers.
Plan you next dive on the Um El Faroud by using our 3D wreck photo Map - Simply CLICK HERE
With thanks to Howard, Sarah and Dive Wise - Malta for their photos and expertise.