time to explore with esplora

diving into history

Limpid clear waters, excellent visibility, deep caverns, off-shore reefs and a plethora of intriguing historical wrecks make the Maltese Islands a dream destination for divers and underwater photographers.

Diving enthusiasts now have access to three new historical underwater sites, all aircraft wrecks and part of the 15 subaquatic sites managed by UCHU, the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit within Heritage Malta, which is the National agency for Cultural Heritage.

Lying south-west of Marsaxlokk at a depth of 56 metres on a sandy seabed, the American B24 Liberator is the world’s most produced heavy bomber. In early May 1943, the B24 was returning from a fierce air raid over Reggio Calabria, when it encountered engine trouble.

Despite jettisoning its bomb load, a series of failed landing attempts forced the crew to abandon the plane in the sea. One out of the 10-member crew remains unaccounted for.

B24 Liberator

Photo: Heritage Malta

Renowned for its low-speed manoeuvrability, the Douglas A-1 Skyraider was commissioned a week after the end of the Second World War. The American single-seat attack aircraft was entrusted with mail duties between the Ħal Far airfield in Malta and the aircraft carrier USS Midway. Minutes after taking off from Ħal Far, the Skyraider suffered a total engine failure.

Leaving the cockpit, the pilot Lt Robert HL Reeb utilised the aircraft’s emergency dinghy and was rescued by a Sikorsky HO3S Dragonfly Helicopter, which was dispatched from the USS Midway. This operation is the first documented helicopter rescue in the Mediterranean. The wreck lies off the coast of Birżebbuġia, in the south of Malta, at a depth of 96 metres.

douglas a-1 skyraider

Photo: Heritage Malta

A versatile medium range bomber, but disadvantaged by the location of its glazed cockpit, the Junker Ju88 was operated by German Luftwaffe from Sicily in sustained bombings on Malta.

Probably a victim of aerial combat with allied aircraft, suggested by damage to the tail section, the Ju88 sits upright on a sandy seabed at a depth of 106 metres north-west, off the coast of Marsascala.

Heritage Malta is launching three new sites in conjunction with a two-pronged photographic competition, that focuses on historic wrecks and another on the interaction between marine wildlife and these wrecks. 

Junker Ju88 (south)

Photo: Heritage Malta

These sites may only be accessed through Heritage Malta Approved Dive Schools and a ticket fee applies.  

For more information, visit Heritage Malta or click here.