Technical dive on the Xlendi wreck

Today I finally visited the wreck of Xlendi, a ferry that used to make the crossing between Malta and Gozo back when I was a little boy.  After it was decommissioned, it was scuttled off the coast of Xatt l-Ahmar in 1999.  I have done many dives at this site, mostly on the nearby Karwela and Cominoland wrecks, but I had not yet descended upon the M.V. Xlendi.

Upon arriving at the site, I could not help but smile at the wonderfully blue sea glimmering under a warm sun.

Xatt l-Ahmar with Fort Chambray to the left.

We were going to be four divers in all: Brian from Atlantis Diving Centre, myself and another two lovely divers from Italy.  We planned a bottom time of 25mins, and would carry out our decompression using 51% Nitrox.  When we had all kitted up, we proceeded to the our entry point, and one by one jumped into the inviting waters.

We slowly made our way down, and before we knew it, there she was: the M.V. Xlendi. Unfortunately, when the M.V. Xlendi was scuttled, it settled upside down on the 42m-deep bottom, so we first came by the rudder, visible in the picture below.

The rudder of the M.V. Xlendi.

As we proceeded slowly along the hull, I took in the shape of this vessel that I still remember boarding in my childhood.

The bottom of the upturned M.V. Xlendi.


A diver finning over the bottom of the M.V. Xlendi.

When the M.V. Xlendi turned upside down and settled on the bottom, the superstructure dug deep into the sand; these two factors made this wreck unstable.  In addition, there not enough suitable exit points, so all these problems conspire to make this wreck a very dangerous one to penetrate.  For this reason, we only kept to the very outermost part of the wreck from which we could exit at any point through large windows to our right.  The visibility was excellent and we took care not to stir any silt as we proceeded down the length of the M.V. Xlendi.

It is very strongly advised that divers do not venture inside; even if you only plan to take a peek at the very outermost section, only do this accompanied by divers who are well-experienced with this wreck. And never be tempted to explore any deeper into it!  Needless to say, excellent buoyancy control and adequate training are a must, as it is very easy to stir up silt and end up in serious trouble in such overhead environments.  These warnings are by no means an exaggeration: unfortunately, there has already been a fatality at this wreck.  The signs warning you to keep out are there for a very good reason.  Remember: there is nothing inside that is worth losing your life for.

Exploring the very outermost part of the M.V. Xlendi in the company of a very experienced guide.

Upon exiting the wreck, we turned around to come upon another smaller wreck, and a very different and unusual one at that: a car that has made this place its final resting place since the year 2000.  Unusual it might be, but I found it to be very photogenic, so much so that it even managed to steal the limelight and make it as the featured picture of this blog post, despite the main wreck being the M.V. Xlendi!

A more unusual wreck that sits beside the M.V. Xlendi.

Once our bottom time was up, we started our slow ascent.

Commencing our ascent.

As we completed our decompression stops, one by one, we hovered at the very last decompression stop at 3m, where we met some ever curious and friendly Ornate wrasse.

Colourful entertainment during our final decompression stop.

I’ve put together a short video clip of the dive here:

And there goes another dive which had been a long time coming.  I am sure to visit the M.V. Xlendi again – and the accompanying car wreck, of course.  Below is the dive profile as recorded by the Shearwater Petrel 2 dive computer, with a summary of the log further down below.

Until the next one, happy & safe diving to all!  And Happy Easter!

Dive Log Info
Date: 15/04/2017
Site: Xlendi Wreck
Time in: 14:26
Time out: 15:22
Runtime: 56mins
Max Depth: 42m
Max TTS: 16mins
Bottom Temperature: 15ºC
Visibility: Very good


2 thoughts on “Technical dive on the Xlendi wreck

  1. I dived the Xlendi when she was a ‘new’ wreck. In those days you could swim the length of the car deck but soon afterwards it collapsed into the crushed sausage it now is. I’ve stuck my head inside but don’t fancy going inside now. It’s a pity that no holes have been made in the hull but I suppose that would be seen as an invitation……… The Volvo was there right at the beginning. Perhaps I’ll go back there one day?

    1. Hi Jef, thanks for dropping by! Yes, it’s a pity the Xlendi collapsed the way she did. But it’s an enjoyable dive nonetheless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *