- A former East German Kondor class mine sweeper built in 1960’s
- Purchased by Malta in 1992 (along with P-29 & P-30)
- Decommissioned in 2004
- Sank 24th August 2009
- 52m long, 7m wide, weighing 360 tons
Since her sinking, the P-31 has had to weather some rough storms as the prevailing winds on the islands are from a NW direction and sitting this shallow in the water means that waves and swell have had an impact, but considering that she has been underwater for 10 years already the wreck is still in very good condition. Before sinking she was thoroughly cleaned and made safe for divers. This means doors and hatches were removed and obstructions such fixtures, wires and cables were cleared out. There are a number of levels to explore and for a freediver it is normally clear and obvious which direction it is possible and safe to go in.
- Be careful of scuba divers! Sometimes there can be large groups of beginners on the wreck and they can block or obstruct exit points. Also, the wall of bubbles they release can hinder the view from a buddies perspective.
- Check overhead and around you as sometimes there are still a few stray cables or pieces of metal jutting out or hanging loose. Mind not to cut your hands or catch your wetsuit on any sharp edges.
- The large hatches (what would have been engine compartments) towards the centre and rear of the ship are open and linked together.
- Surface close to your freediving buoy and display either the ‘diver down’ or ‘alpha’ flag (or both!), to signify that divers are in the water. Ideally, also have someone on the surface watching boat traffic that can warn or issue instructions.
- Take a Freediving Course: Knowing how to breathe correctly, having efficient technique, and knowing your body and understanding safety and how to rescue correctly will all make you a better, safer and more confident freediver.
- Be a Good Buddy: Always freedive with a buddy, never freedive alone. This is the golden rule of freediving! And, watch your buddies dive attentively from the surface and then meet them at a depth of 10m as they return back to the surface.
- Do Your Research: Make a plan before you enter the water and discuss and adapt it during the session when necessary. Know what each other is doing and where you are going. Know the wreck: study photos, ask other divers. Is it safe? Look closely first from the outside and never go in anywhere where there is no clear and obvious exit
- Use Suitable Equipment: Use a freediving buoy and rope, that way you can relax and breathe safely before and after the dive, boat traffic can clearly see you, and you can get down to the wreck using Free Immersion and therefore save energy to explore the wreck with a longer bottom time. Also recommend is a torch to look into darker corners and a knife or line cutters in case or accidental entaglement.
- Have Fun! Freediving a wreck can be fascinating and exciting with so much to explore and discover. There really is something special about seeing close up some huge manmade structure out of its element and deep in the blue water.
Lastly, please remember, freediving, and especially wreck freediving, can be DANGEROUS. Always freedive with a buddy, never push your limits or enter enclosed spaces with no clear or obvious exit. Please take a freediving course for your own safety and that of your buddy.
Interested in wreck freediving? Then subscribe to One Breath Freediving and follow our ‘Wrecks of Malta’ video series! Speak to David about freediving courses and wreck exploration possibilities.