A decommissioned Armed Forces of Malta P-33 patrol boat has been sunk as a new attraction for scuba divers in a joint effort by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and Professional Diving School Association of Malta, Gozo and Comino (PDSA).
The 23-metre long Bremse class vessel was commissioned by the East German Navy in 1972, where she served before being sold to Malta in 1992 following the 1990 reunification of Germany. P-33 was bought together with her sister ship P-32 and two Kondor class minesweepers, the P-30 and P-31 – the latter already a popular wreck dive off Comino – before being decommissioned in 2005.
Plans to sink P-33 were first mooted in 2012, before the site outside Gozo’s Marsalforn Bay was rejected due to ‘environmental concerns’. The P-33 has instead been sunk off the southeast coast of Malta’s main island at Zonqor Point in Marsaskala, and now lies at a recreational depth of 20m between the popular wrecks of the tugboats St Michael and Number 10 (aka Melita).
The sinking on 31 July was aided by a €250,000 investment from the Maltese government to kindle interest in the Maltese diving sector, one of the country’s most popular tourist activities, which was hit hard by the coronavirus travel restrictions.