On Saturday 12th August 2006, 2 short sea ferryboats COMINOLAND and KARWELA were towed from Cassar Ship Repair Yard, Marsa to Ras il-Hobz, Gozo that is a submerged pinnacle also known as the Middle Finger, to be scuttled by the Gozo Tourism Association. The Pinnacle is one of the most breathtaking dives in Gozo. The top of this pinnacle is only 8 meters below the surface but it rises up from 50 meters down.
Both vessels were cleaned up before scuttling by Cassar Ship Repair. Before scuttling operation, the ships were made safe for the environment and also safe for divers to penetrate, and during the scuttle buoyancy tanks and lift bags were used to ensure the wreck landed upright and not upside down like the nearby ferry XLENDI. As an experiment COMINOLAND was completely stripped off all of its outer paintwork as can be seen here on Friday 12th August,2006 at Marsa-
Whereas KARWELA was left with paint on, to see which technique would better encourage marine life settlement on the wrecks.
Saturday morning arrived full of prepations…….Cassar Yard Tugboat ST. ROCCO towed KARWELA starting as early at 0349 hrs –
And Tug armed with A Frame SEAWOLF II towed COMINOLAND together with flat top barge B45 –
Arriving on site around 1000 hrs the two vessels were being positioned –
AFM with both Air & Maritime Assets, Civil Protection Department and Malta Police were on site too
Time for scuttling operation arrived with COMINOLAND started to sink first though at times with the help of the CPD Fireboat GARIBALDI monitors –
Important facts about the History of COMINOLAND –
COMINOLAND was built in England by Philip & Son Ltd in 1942 as an ‘M’ class small minelayer. The ship had gross weight of 295 tons and was 34 m in length with an 8 m beam. Commissioned as M6, her original name was Miner VI (N16). After her career with the Royal Navy, she was sold to E. Zammit & Sons in 1966, converted as a ferry boat to operate a ferry service between Valletta and the island of Comino, and renamed first MINOR IV and few years later MINOR EAGLE and in 1976 COMINOLAND. In 1980 she was converted for pleasure cruising and renamed her again as JYLLAND II. In 1982 she was sold to Captain Morgan Cruises and renamed COMINOLAND again, and operated day cruises for tourists in Grand Harbour and to Comino island.
Later on after 1600 hrs KARWELA was next –
Important facts about the History of KARWELA –
KARWELA was built in West Germany by Jos L. Meyer in 1957. The passenger ferry with steel hull had gross weight of 497 tons and was 50 m long with a beam of 8 m and 23 m height. Her original name was M/S FRISIA II, and she was renamed to NORDPALOMA in 1977. The ferry which was designed to carry up to 863 passengers and no cars came to Malta in 1986 half sunk boarded and piloted inside Valletta by the late Harbour Pilot Carmelo Calafato and was renamed to KARWELA. In 1992 she was purchased by Captain Morgan Cruises and sailed as a tourist ferry until decommissioned in 2002.
COMINOLAND location as wreck is – 36.0173°N 14.2873°E
KARWELA location as wreck is – 36.0168°N 14.2864°E
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com