Ocean Revival – Wreck Diving for All

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Wreckheads are in for a treat when the Ocean Revival Project in the Algarve is completed in September. UK tour operator Paul Hughes of Hidden Depths Dive Tours gives us the lowdown…

Did you know the world’s largest artificial reef Ocean Revival is on Western Europe’s doorstep? It will be complete on the 21st September, when the 64 mtr hydrographic ship Almeida de Carvalho is sunk. It joins three other ex-Portuguese Navy ships and is the culmination of a major 6 year project.

Many of you would have heard of (and maybe even dived) HMS Scylla in the UK; well, Ocean Revival is the equivalent of four Scylla’s next to each other! Like the Scylla, all have been meticulously cleaned of any environmentally hazardous materials and stripped of any dangers to divers. All ships are perfect for a wide range of diving experiences as strategically cut access holes make penetration easy and safe, with a maximum depth of 32 mtrs. The added bonus is that water temperatures reach 22 degrees in late summer and visibility a possible 20 mtrs.

The 85 mtr Oliveira e Carmo Corvette and 44 mtr Zambeze Patrol Ship were sunk last autumn with great fanfare. The patrol ship hit the sand perfectly, but the corvette touched down stern first and suffered damage to the super structure. However, this has meant easier penetration and a better visual of the inside decking, making it look like a ‘real’ wreck. The ‘big boy’ frigate coming in at 102 mtrs was sunk in June with the final piece of the jigsaw scheduled for September.

Once complete, Ocean Revival will provide divers from all over Western Europe with great short weekends away knowing they will get decent vis – and it is highly unlikely the dive will get blown out! What’s more it is perfect for the family too. There is a wide range of accommodation to suit all needs and budgets from the lively beach resort of Praia Da Rocha, the quaint fishing village of Alvor and the cobbled streets of white washed Lagos. On your off gassing day you have the choice of many excellent golf courses or if this really is too much effort those sandy beaches are calling. Flights to Faro are numerous from many local airports and weight allowance is not an issue as full equipment is provided free of charge, along with underwater cameras. This means for a long weekend all that is needed is hand luggage making the airport experience so much easier.

The Ships

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The OLIVEIRA e CARMO Corvette

Planned as reinforcement to the Portuguese Navy presence in the waters of ex-Portuguese colonies, the Oliveira e Carmo is the last of the corvettes acquired in the 1970s. With the end of the colonial war, the original objective it was used for became a mission without meaning and since then, the corvette was put into service as an oceanic escort vessel under the scope of NATO and, later on, as a patrol ship in Portuguese waters.

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The ZAMBEZE Patrol Ship

In 1973 the Zambeze set off for Cape Verde for an Overseas Mission. It carried out several missions in the North, Central, South and Madeira maritime zones, with occasional voyages to the Canary Islands archipelago. It docked at several ports, where its dignified presence brought prestige to the Portuguese Navy.

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The COMANDER HERMENEGILDO CAPELO Frigate

The only surviving vessel of its class in Portugal, the Comander Hermenegildo Capelo was acquired in the 1960s to carry out sovereignty missions in the waters around Africa and the Far East. It crossed the equator around 60 times and was the first ship in the Portuguese Navy to take on female crewmembers.

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The ALMEIDA CARVALHO Oceanographic Vessel

Built to operate in waters with floating ice, the ship was acquired to meet the needs of the Portuguese Armed Forces and to assist the Hydrographical Institute [Instituto Hidrográfico] in its aims between 1972 and 2002. Its design rooms and laboratories were used for important oceanographic work.

To find out more about the Ocean Revival Project and how to get there, click here

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