The world’s first underwater military museum has been created just off the shores of Aqaba, Jordan.
After 30 days of planning, a total of 19 pieces of hardware were sunk over a period of seven working days leading up to the launch ceremony on 25 July. The equipment was sunk in ‘battle formation’ and includes tanks of different sizes, an ambulance, a military crane, a troop carrier, anti-aircraft guns and a combat helicopter.
‘The military museum is the first product of its kind in the region, and I think in the world,’ said Nayeh Bakhit, ASEZA’s Chief Commissioner. ‘It is important because the sport of diving in Aqaba is attracting tourists, and many tourists from around the world come here to practice this sport.’
According to a press release from the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), who oversaw the project, ‘great attention’ was given to the environmental effects of sinking the equipment. All hazardous materials were removed to ‘comply with environmental best practices’. The location of the museum was specifically chosen for its lack of coral and other marine life. It is hoped that not only will the new attraction bring more divers to Aqaba, but will also help alleviate the burden of increased tourism on local coral reefs.
‘This location is relatively poor with marine organisms, and poor with coral reefs and these things attract divers,’ said Abdullah Abu-Awali, ASEZA’s Head of Beaches Administration. ‘This will reduce the pressure on the natural coral reefs by creating new artificial sites.’
The machines were sunk in a depth range of 15 to 28m, meaning that visitors will be able to enjoy the attraction by snorkelling and glass-bottom boat tours, as well as scuba diving. ASEZA says that the underwater military museum will grow in the future ‘as new acquisitions are added’. The sinking of a C-130 ‘Hercules’ transport aircraft in a similar location in 2017 has already proven a success for dive tourism.