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HMS Maori Wreck

HMS Maori Wreck, Malta

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The HMS Maori Wreck; a British Tribal-Class destroyer and a proud vessel of the Royal Navy, was constructed by Fairfield in Govan, Scotland, and launched in September 1937. At 115m in length and 11m in width, the HMS Maori was armed with 4 x 21 torpedo tubes and manned by a crew of 190 persons.

The front section of the destroyer is submerged in the underwater realm of St Elmo’s Bay, adjacent to Valletta, the HMS Maori wreck rests on the sandy seabed, providing a spectacular shallow wreck dive that lures a diverse array of marine life. This shipwreck has become a key attraction for those exploring shipwrecks in Malta.

  • Suitable for: Open Water +
  • Depth: 5m – 15m
  • Points of interest: The bridge, original gun placements & anchor windlasses
  • Entry/Exit: Easy when steps are in place / Medium if steps are missing

HMS Maori Wreck History

One of the most well-known campaigns the HMS Maori, a distinguished Royal Navy vessel, participated in was the pursuit of Germany’s flagship battleship, the Bismarck.

On the 26th May 1941, while on a mission to escort a convoy to the Middle East, the HMS Maori, along with 2 other destroyers broke off and navigated towards the area where the Bismarck had been reported. They located Bismarck that evening and made numerous torpedo attacks through the night and into the next morning. No hits were documented but they kept the Bismarck gunners from getting any rest, making it easier for the battleships to attack her the next morning. HMS Maori then rescued some of the survivors from Bismarck after the battleship sank.

During World War II, HMS Maori was a key participant in numerous successful campaigns but met her tragic end in Valletta’s Grand Harbour on 12th February 1942, becoming a significant WW2 wreck. After a parachute flare from an enemy aircraft became ensnared in her mast, she suffered a direct bomb hit, which ignited a fire and led to her sinking.

In 1945, the HMS Maori wreck’s front section was salvaged and relocated to St Elmo’s Bay, while the remaining wreckage was submerged in the deeper waters off the coast of Valletta.

HMS Maori Wreck Malta

The Dive

Over time, the HMS Maori wreck in Valletta has been battered by environmental conditions, including storms and severe weather. A particularly fierce storm in early 2019 inflicted considerable damage on the wreck. These fragmented sections now provide an excellent chance for exploration, where divers can peer through the portholes to spot shrimp and hermit crabs amidst the wreck’s internal structures and pipework, with some of the original gauges still in place and visible.

At the bow section of the HMS Maori wreck, you will discover two large anchor windlasses. Today, the most prominent features on the shipwreck are the bridge section that sits proudly on top and the original cog mechanisms for the gun platform of two of the original guns.

The swim to the HMS Maori wreck is a relaxed 10 min journey with shore access, where you follow a sloping bottom made up of rocks and boulders that leads you to a sandy bottom. Head along the sand for a few minutes before turning right to see the first parts of the wreck emerging vertically from the sand. As the wreck is in shallow water, it makes a perfect location to practice line work during the Wreck Diver Specialty.

This site attracts a wide variety of marine life and serves as an artificial reef. Divers can encounter Moray Eels, Rays, Octopus, Lizard fish, Flying Gurnards, Cuttlefish, Triggerfish, Flabellina Nudibranchs, and large shoals of Salpa fish, Bream, and Wrasse in this underwater haven.

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