Wreck diving is a passion for many. For some it is the history surrounding the wrecks, for others it is the marine life that finds refuge there and for others it is simply the joy of diving around a wreck, having a look inside and exploring the structures. This passion for rusting metal has encouraged a numbers of countries to deliberately sink boats, ships and military vehicles that have reached the end of their life on the seas, or the battlefield. Here are our top 6:
Charlie Brown, St Eustatius, Caribbean
The Charlie Brown (pictured left) is a 100m long cable layer sunk in 2003 off the tiny Caribbean island of St Eustatius. We assisted with the preparation to sink this ship and were the first people to dive it. It lies on its side in 30m of clear blue water and the shallowest of the structure is at around 18m. Schools of jacks swirl around the wreck, turtles make use of the many places to take shelter and small fish and octopus hide in every hole. The 13 years under the water has seen prolific coral growth.
Big Crab, Bahamas, Caribbean
Stuart Cove’s Dive Centre co-ordinated the sinking of this wreck (pictured right) near their famous shark feeding site. Just off the bow there is a lovely patch of reef and so divers can choose what type of dive they fancy. The best way to enjoy this wreck is when the Stuart Cove team put a bait box inside the wreck and you can explore it in the company of some 20 or so Caribbean Reef Sharks swimming around the small wreck with you.
Vandenburg, Key West, USA
The Vandenburg (pictured below) was sunk of the Florida coast in 2009. It was a former missile tracking ship and probably, the most impressive features are the large aerial arrays that you can dive around. It is a large ship wreck at 150m in length and can take several dives to fully explore. It sits fully upright in the water and so to ensure boat clearance, some structures had to be cut down to give 12m from the top of the wreck to the surface.
Kittiwake, Cayman Islands, Caribbean
The ex-USS Kittiwake (pictured below) is situated in a marine park off Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. To visit this wreck you have to pay a marine park fee which is used to protect this area and ensure the wreck remains in a good and safe condition. The ship used to be a submarine rescue vessel and was sunk deliberately for divers in 2011. Set in shallow water, with escape routes cut into her structure, this is a popular wreck for novice divers as well as underwater photographers who want to get images both inside and out.
Ocean Revival, Portugal
Ocean Revival (pictured below) is a series of 4 wrecks which have been deliberately sunk near each other off the coast of the Algarve in Portugal to create an immense artificial reef. All 4 ships were decommissioned ex-navy ships, sunk in 2012 and include a corvette, a frigate, a patrol ship and a hydrographic ship. The ships were sunk to promote marine life in the area and are now home to a huge array of species from colourful nudibranchs to inquisitive ocean triggerfish.
The wreck of the Kudhimaa lies just off the island of Machafushi in the Maldives. It was sunk in 1998 to provide divers with something different from the sharks, mantas and other marine life dives the area is known for. It sits upright in the water and is a great site for underwater photography. The wreck is covered in marine life, with coral and sponges clinging to every surface. Batfish follow you on the dive as you hunt for frogfish, scorpionfish and eels hiding on the structure.
Did your favourite artificial reef make it on to the list? Have you dived on any of the artificial reefs that are included? Let us know in the comments section below!