Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shipwrecks of Barbados

Barbados diving is known for its wreck sites and reef formations. However,
due to the enormous amount of fishing done off the island, large fish are
seldom seen by divers. The marine park at historic Carlisle Bay is home to five shallow wrecks; the Berwyn, Ctrek, Eillon, Bajan Queen and the Fox. Abundant with tropicals, small groupers and eels. Rare species such as frog fish, bat fish and sea horses. A macro photographer's dream.  The SS Stavronikita. The island's signature wreck is a 365-foot Greek freighter sitting in 70 to 140 feet of water.


In 1919 a French military ship came into the harbour. “The Berwyn”. The crew really enjoyed the island of Barbados and wanted to stay longer. The captain said over his dead body and a sunken ship. Well, they all got to drinking, got into an argument and the crew sunk the ship.
The 60 foot French boat sits upright and intact n 20 to 25 feet of water, only 100 yards
from shore. This site is often used as a training dive for scuba or resort courses. The intact iron structure is heavily encrusted with coral, allows for easy penetration, and portrays a classic shipwreck background for wide angle photography. A local dive operator has set up a fish feeding station on the site, so be sure to bring some food for the local inhabitants.

During World War II, a ship named the Cornwallis was sailing near Barbados where a German U-Boat hit it with torpedoes. The Cornwallis was taken ashore and repaired. On the 3rd December 1944 when on route from BARBADOS for ST JOHN (N.B.) carrying a cargo of sugar in bags and mollas ses in barrels she was torpedoed by German submarine U-1230 and sunk.
43 crew lost from a total of 48 The Cornwallis sunk in the deeper waters off the shore of Barbados. Then, when the Carlisle Bay marine park was set up, they moved the hull of the Cornwallis closer ashore.


The Elion, came to Barbados from Columbia. The ship was seized by local authorities and searched. They pulled off the interior wall of the ship to discover that the walls of the entire thing was lined with marijuana. The government maintained control of the ship. After all the legal issues were taken care of, the Elion was brought out to the marine park in Carlise Bay and sunk there.


The Bajan Queen is located in Carlisle Bay ~ 35ft ~ She was Barbados’ first tugboat named the “Pelican” when the Bridgetown Harbour was being constructed in the 1960’s. A decade later, as more modern tugboats were purchased; the Pelican was then converted to a party boat called “Bajan Queen”. The Bajan Queen holds many memories for thousands of Barbadians and visitors alike. After years of operation as the party spot the Bajan Queen was donated to the Coastal Zone Management Unit. From there with the assistance of our very own Andre Miller the Bajan Queen was cleaned up and sunk on 19th May 2002 in Carlisle Bay Marine Park. She now sits only a few feet below the surface and is accumulating some excellent fish life and good coral diversity.


Carlisle Bay ~ 45ft ~ The Ce-Trek, a derelict boat constructed of cement was sunk in January 1986. This shipwreck sits in deeper water on the northern edge of the park and is home to nice coral, soft coral and sponge growth.


This vessel, according to Willie Hassell, owner of Willie's Watersports, is
a 160 foot long steamer that was scuttled intentionally in 1985 to form a
fish haven. She sits in 50 feet of water and has already attracted a nice
assortment of fish.


The Pamir wreck is a 155 foot freighter that was also intentionally scuttled
in 1985 to attract fish. She lies completely intact in 50 feet of water about
100 yards offshore. Located on the northwest side of the island, this wreck
can be visited by boat, or divers can reach her by swimming from the

Straronikita Shipwreck

Stavronikita after the fire. Note the SOS painted on her hull in an attempt to summon help to the stranded
crew. Photo courtesy W.M. Schell, negative by Charles F. Schell. The Stavronikita is probably the most popular wreck on Barbados. She was a 365 foot Greek freighter built in Denmark in 1956 and originally christened the Ohio. On August 26, 1976, while en route from Ireland to the Caribbean and carrying a cargo of 101,000 bags of cement, the vessel caught fire, killing six crew members and injuring three others. An explosion that followed the fire destroyed all of the ship's radio equipment, making it impossible for
the stranded crew to call for help. Twenty four crewmen drifted in the open sea for four days before being rescued. The Stavronikits was then towed to Barbados. A year went by, and the vessel was still anchored off Carlisle Bay, Barbados. On October 24, 1977 , she was purchased at an auction for the sum of $30,000
by the Parks and Beach Commission. The ship was then stripped of all the machinery and brass that could be salvaged. She was cleaned of pollutants, namely the 70,000 gallons of oil being carried in her fuel tanks and towed to a spot just 400 yards offshore on the west coast of the island. On November
21,1978, the U.S. Navy demolition crew set seven charges totaling 200 pounds and blew holes in the ship's hull, causing her to sink. Today, the huge wreck Stavronikila rests in Exploration around and inside her pilot house by her bow where the vessel's name can still divers should not miss.

Lord Combermere  & Lord Willoughby
The tugboat Lord Combermere is sunk near Batt’s Rock on the windy west coast.

Locatted  in 40ft of water, this small wreck is surrounded by a variety of corals and sponges and is home to many smaller fish. A good beginners dive. Its sister ship, the Lord Willoughby rests in 60 feet of water about a mile away.


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