Zenobia Wreck - The Legend
The Zenobia or ‘Zen’ (Lloyds registration number 7806087) was a roll-on roll-off ferry built in Malmo Sweden in 1979 to operate in the eastern Mediterranean. It weighed 10,000 tons, was 172 meters long and 28 meters wide. Its maximum speed was 21.5 knots and was registered to carry 140 passengers.
The Zenobia set off from Malmo on 4th May 1980 headed for Crete where she moored for 2 days, before departing for Greece. On route to Athens the captain noticed problems with the steering and the ship began leaning to the portside. On inspection of the ship it was revealed that the listing was caused by water being pumped into the ballast tanks. In Piraeus, Greece the water was pumped out and the problem believed to be solved. The ship then headed for Larnaca, Cyprus, where she arrived on 3rd June to find the problem had recurred. In Larnaca it was found that the computerized pump system was still pumping water into the side ballast tanks and the listing was getting worse.
The Zenobia was towed out of Larnaca harbor as a precaution and was left at anchor about 1500 to 2000 meters offshore. The majority of the crew had left the ship leaving the captain, engineers and maintenance crew to try and find a solution. On the 5th June the captain dismissed the last of the crew as the ship was now listing at 45 degrees and it seemed there was no possible solution. On the 7th June, in the early hours of the morning, the ship began to sink. It took 2 days to sink to its final resting place at 42 meters. The exact cause has never been proven and no formal investigation into the sinking has ever been published. The ship sank with a cargo estimated at £200m, which included cars and over 100 articulated Lorries, full of goods. It also included trucks loaded with livestock, the bones of which can be seen in one of the wagons on the main deck. Since sinking, the Zenobia has been relatively untouched with no salvage work being allowed.
The Zenobia is about 600 feet long. It went down in 1980. Top of the wreck is at about 80 feet and bottom at about 140.
Dive Site Description
Our standard trip to this amazing wreck includes two dives one to the stern of the Zenobia and the other to the bow. We generally explore the stern, open cargo area, and the propellers for the first dive.
As you descend down towards the top of the wreck sitting in around 16 metres of water you will be meet with tame silver bream and many fish once you get your buoyancy sorted we will take you toward the open cargo area dropping slowly to around 28 metres as you swim over the open cargo area, and lorries as seen in the photo above you will see the huge loading ramps come into view we then continue towards the ramps swimming through a gap at around 28 metres before continuing towards the stern of the wreck heading towards the propellers. The Zenobia has two massive propellers each blade is approximately 3 metres high the top propeller sits in 26 metres of water when the visibility is good you can see the bottom propeller resting on the seabed at 42 metres. Once we have explored the top propeller you will head back on to the top ofthe wreck dependant on no decompression limits and air consumption you guide will continue the dive accordingly exploring the top deck bore heading back to the shot line to make your ascent.
For your second dive you will see the life boats, bridge, the anchor, bow and the canteen. The second dive generally involves to simple swim troughs.
As per the first dive you will descend on to the top of the wreck at 16 metres you will then head towards the life boats as pictured below one of the life boats is still intact and is a popular place for an underwater pose. Once you have explored the life boats you will head towards the bridge in around 20 metres of water your guide will ask if you are happy to enter the wreck this is done through a large window once you descend you will clearly see the controls of the Zenobia. As you swim out form the bridge you will head towards the anchor and the bow at around 28 metres the size of the bow is breath taking as you swim in a circle around the bow you will see the huge anchor sitting at around 25 metres once you have posed next to the anchor you will head towards the canteen entrance as you prepare to enter the canteen on your left you will see the red tartan carpet hanging down from the floor you will then continue through the canteen as you come toward the exit window you will see the coffee machine in from of you. You will then exit the canteen on to the top deck of the wreck heading back towards the shot line.
Marine life on the Zenobia
The Zenobia is rich with marine life there are countless numbers of large silver bream rainbow wrasse and damsel fish. Families of tame large grouper are resident on the wreck. In addition to this shoals of tuna and jacks are frequently seen around the wreck along with large moray eels and turtles. Diving on the Zenobia is truly a photographers dream.