Le Polynesien was a consolation dive for us after some more exciting prospects failed to materialise on the depth sounder. After a few hours of searching we decamped to this well-known WWI wreck. She was a French ocean liner, launched in 1890 and carrying passengers between France and far flung parts of the globe. Prior to her war re-fit as a troopship she had capacity for 582 passengers in four classes. In the last year of WWI she was tracking 7 miles out of Valletta Harbour en route to Greece when she was struck by a U-boat torpedo. She now sits on the bottom in about 65m of water.
Le Polynesien is huge – 152m long – with one massive propellor under her intact stern. She’s generally upright-ish with a list to the port side along most of her length. Her middle section is a mess where the torpedo came through, and you can work through the wreckage for easy access to the layers of decks inside.
We planned for a long bottom time and it was good to explore from one end to the other. I headed inside and down to the stern to check out the view. The single propellor is sitting up out of the sand, showing off some very skinny blades. The ship is large enough that even with good vis it was hard to fit the whole stern in the picture. Capturing the prop was interesting from a photographic perspective as the overhang of the stern was causing huge exposure contrast between the dark shaded areas and the blue waters behind. I had just about got that balanced out when Craig showed up to pose in the first photo above.
Up above the prop on the deck of the stern sits the stern gun, mirrored by the bow gun at the other end of the ship. I moseyed my way back down the deck to find the ship just kept going. The bow is a lot longer and skinnier than the WWII wrecks we had been diving. I swam out into blue water to turn around and get this shot of Dave and Sandy posing and videoing the bow. From them we headed back to the shot and up for a spot of deco. All in all, she’s a great wreck to spend an hour exploring.