Diving in Malta – The P29 Shipwreck

Diving the P29 Shipwreck

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The P29 sits upright on a sandy bottom which is approx. 35 metres deep. This wreck dive is one one the most popular dives in Malta and Gozo. The P29 has an array of marine life living on it benefits from fantastic visibility more often than not.

  • P29 Dive Suitable for: Advanced Open Water Divers +
  • Wreck Depth: 18 – 35 metres
  • Points of interest: Shipwreck 
  • Entry/Exit: Easy

History

The vessel was built in East Germany, known then as the German Democratic Republic. Originally named Boltenhagen, this vessel was launched on May 22nd 1970. As a Kondor I-class minesweeper, Boltenhagen was used by the Volksmarine, the naval force of the German Democratic Republic, to patrol the river banks between East and West Germany. 

After the reunification of Germany in 1990, Boltenhagen was used by the German Federal Coast Guard. The name Boltenhagen was kept, but the vessel was given the pennant number BG31.  The vessel’s radio and radar equipment were changed, the guns were dismantled, and it was repainted. BG31 was the last Kondor I-class in the German Coast Guard and was decommissioned on the 30th of June 1996.

The vessel was then purchased by Malta on 24th July 1997 and was given the pennant number P29. Its new role was within the Offshore Command of the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta. During this role, the vessel was used to secure the Maltese coast against smuggling, and border control operations. In 2004 the vessel was decommissioned and was purchased by the Malta Tourism Authority in September 2005. The vessel was cleaned and then scuttled on the 14th August 2007 off the port of Ċirkewwa. Its final role was and still is to serve as a dive site and an artificial reef. 

The Dive 

Entry to the dive site is made from shore. There is a slope with handrails and a step into the water. Once in the water, a steady 10-minute swim will put you over the stern of the shipwreck. For most divers, buoyancy control during this mid-water swim is the most challenging part of the dive. 

The P29 sits upright on a sandy bottom which is approx. 35 metres deep. The length of the shipwreck is 52m and the beam is just over 7m, which is more than enough shipwreck to explore during a dive! The shallowest part is what remains of the original mainmast which is at a depth of 18m. Descending, you pass the wheelhouse area at approx. 25m until you reach the main deck at approx. 31m deep. 

Surrounding the shipwreck are many fish, including Jacks and Bream. On the wreck, you have the possibility of finding Scorpionfish, Moray Eels, Flabellina nudibranchs and several other invertebrates. 

With the necessary wreck diver training and equipment, wreck penetration is possible. At the stern area, there are openings that allow diver entry. Here you find an array of switchboards and electrical components. Forward of the stern, there is a large opening that leads down to the engine mounts. Mid-ship has doorways on either side of the vessel leading into several internal rooms.

This guided dive is another must when visiting Malta! CLICK HERE to take a look at our video ‘Around the P29 in 60 Seconds’.

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