The MS Zenobia wreck was a roll-on roll-off ferry built in Sweden. In May 1980 she set off on her maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria. It was loaded with 104 lorries containing cargo destined for the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

During the voyage, the captain noticed they had steering problems and the Zenobia started listing to port. It turned out that this was caused by excess water that had been pumped into the ballast tanks. This water was pumped out while on her stop in Athens and proceeded to her penultimate stop in Larnaca, Cyprus before reaching its destination in Syria.

Upon arriving in Larnaca, the Zenobia experienced the same problem as in Athens and engineers determined that there was a glitch in the computerised pumping system. The ferry was towed and anchored around two kilometres out of Larnaca harbour in order not to create an obstruction.

On the 7th of June 1980 at around 2:30 a.m., the Zenobia capsized and sank into Larnaca Bay together with all of its £200 million worth of vehicles and cargo. It settled down at around 42 metres below sea level. No human lives were lost during this incident but a truck load of animals died when the ship went down.

Various local legends surround the mysterious sinking of the MS Zenobia on that faithful night. Some rumours claim that the malfunction of the computer’s system was caused by an accidental switch-off of the system. Allegedly, this was done as a scam in order to recover the company’s insurance money. Others insist that the owners never collected the insurance money and no formal investigation has ever come to light. Some theories also maintain that the ship was carrying drugs and rocket missiles.

Whatever the truth is behind this mysterious sinking, the wreck immediately became very popular with divers and in 2003 it was named as one of the world’s top ten dive sites.

Zenobia Wreck Diving

The Zenobia shipwreck is a very interesting dive site to visit. Since sinking, the ferry has been relatively untouched and no salvage work was ever carried out. Most of the lorries can still be seen tied to the wreck while others have broken free and lie on the seabed. Some of the cargo has also spilled onto the seabed, such as industrial machinery, air-condition units, timber and eggs.

This popular dive site offers a wide range of challenges to scuba divers. For newly qualified divers, it is possible to simply dive to a 16 metre depth. Advanced divers can proceed to dive inside the upper car deck and accommodation block. For the more adventurous, divers can also explore the lower car deck and the engine room. A word of caution: the lower car deck and the engine room are only suitable for very experienced divers. It is also not advisable to swim alongside the undersides of vehicles. They can weigh over 40 tonnes and are only held in place by rusting chains. The lives of 4 scuba divers were lost on this wreck. Diving with experienced local divers with a good background of this site is a must.

Zenobia wreck is also famous for the multitude of marine life that can be observed during these dives. Groupers, amberjacks, moray eels, stingrays, barracudas and even turtles are amongst the marine life that has made this wreck their home.