MV Karwela staircase wreck

The MV Karwela wreck, located off the south coast of Gozo, Malta, is a popular dive site known for its rich history and unique underwater structure. Originally launched in 1957 as the MS Frisia II, the vessel was later renamed MV Karwela after being transferred to Malta in 1986 by Comino Marina Ltd. It served as a passenger ferry, transporting tourists around the Maltese islands until 2002.

The Karwela wreck was intentionally scuttled in August 2006 along with the MV Cominoland as part of an artificial reef project for scuba divers. The wreck lies at a depth of 42 meters, immediately in front of the kitting-up area at Xatt L-Aħmar. It is known for its impressive size, measuring 50.31 meters in length and 8.50 meters in width.

Divers can access the wreck from the shore at Xatt l-Aħmar, following a descent down the reef to the drop-off, where the forward section of the Karwela becomes visible. The wreck is sheltered from northern winds, and the shallow reef nearby is ideal for decompression and safety stops.

The Karwela wreck is celebrated for its several open passageways and swim-throughs, making it a safe and fascinating site for penetration diving. The wreck is populated with algae, marine invertebrates, and sea firs along the rails, which attract nudibranchs. Large spiral tube worms are also common in the area, and divers might spot sea horses. Inside the wreck, divers can explore the wooden deck, steel staircase, bridge, and ship’s bow, which are all photogenic and illuminated by natural light through windows.


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