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Wreck treks: P29

May 13. 2013.

One of the artificial reefs in the Maltese waters is a former patrol boat.

Malta is one of the most popular diving destinations in the Mediterranean, and they try to attract more and more divers with new underwater attractions. Although there are plenty historical wrecks in these waters, they regularly create new artificial reefs: P29 patrol boat is one of them.

It was a Kondor I Class former minesweeper and patrol boat that was scuttled as a dive site in 2007 off Ċirkewwa. Originally it was built for the East German navy in 1970, its name was Boltenhagen. They sold it to Malta along with other former East German boats, Ueckermuende (P30) and Pasewalk (P31). The P29 was used for patrolling and border control operations in Malta, and it was decommissioned in 2004.

After that they decided to sunk the 51 metres long boat near Cirkewwa which was an already popular dive spot. Here lies the Rozi tugboat, which was one of the first boat to scuttle as artificial reef in Malta. The P29 is not too far from her, most of the divers plan two wreck dives in Cirkewwa.

The former navy boat is much more spectacular than the Rozi but in the first years there were much less fish around. It lies at around 35 meters but you don't have to descend to the bottom to enjoy the dive. First you see the stern of the boat, you can swim around the bridge, have a look at the bow, and maybe you'll encounter the inhabitants of the P29: smaller fish, barracudas, octopus, etc.

This wreck is easy to dive, easy to enjoy - a perfect fit to the Maltese dive site collection. For me it's a bit less interesting than the historical wrecks like HMS Maori but on the other hand the P29 as an intact boat can be more spectacular for the less experienced divers. I wanted to see the difference between an estabilished articial reef like the Rozi and a newer one, so we went to Cirkewwa and dive both wrecks there, it was an exciting experience. But to be honest the P29 is not that special wreck, there are much more attracting ones even in the Mediterranean. This new trend of creating artificial reefs can ease pressure on natural sites but sometimes I feel we make an underwater scrapyard... Hopefully the sea will revitalize them so they'll be much more than a pile of rusting metal parts.

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