Sep 202016

Bow of the Schnellboot

Built in 1939 and sunk in 1942, the Motor Torpedo Boat the S31 had a short life. She had a thin metal hull with a mahogany wood coating, to assist her in slipping through mine fields. With 3 diesel engines on board she had a maximum speed of 38 knots carrying her crew of 24. In the early hours of May 10th the S31 was one of 7 MTBs lying in wait for the Welshman, who was expected to arrive in Valletta Harbour. The S31 had just finished placing a new minefield to the north west when she collided with a mine. Less than 30 minutes later she was underwater with 13 men still on board.

Diving the Malta Schnellboot

The Schnellboot lies in about 70m of water with her mahogany hull casing rotted away to reveal her interior. We descended in fantastic vis to see the length of the wreck laid out before us. She sits upright on the sand. I headed to the bow to find I could see straight through the pointy end and into the wreck. Dave squeezed inside through the ribs of the hull to poke his head into the front of the ship for this photo.

Above the front of the bow were the two torpedo tubes with torpedos still intact. The starboard torpedo tube has fallen to the sand on one side, while the port side one is sitting high on the wreck.

With more than a few divers descending with us the good vis quickly deteriorated. Finding good photos was about finding clear spots of water between the sandy clouds. I like this second shot across the middle of the hull as it shows the clear water inside and out. The deeper wreck had more growth on it than the more recently sunk checkout dive in 21m we did the day before.

Torpedo on the Schnellboot

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