P31 Wreck – Comino – Location and General Information
The P31, formerly named Pasewalk was the sister ship to the P29 formerly named Boltenhagen that was scuttled near the Cirkewwa Gozo ferry terminal in Malta in August 2007. They were East-German Kondor I class mine sweepers built in 1969 before being transferred to the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) in 1992. Quad 14.5mm machine guns were fitted and the vessels were used for patrols around Maltese territorial waters. They were involved in several rescue missions involving immigrants and anti-contraband operations.
The P31 is 52 metres long and 7 metres wide. In 2009 it was scuttled in an area with practically no current at 18 metres on white sand close to Comino’s Blue Lagoon, a short boat ride from Mgarr harbour and half an hour away from the St Andrew’s Divers Cove shop in Xlendi. It is one of Malta’s most popular wrecks and because of its depth it can be enjoyed by qualified divers of all levels. It is often a first wreck dive for divers who just qualified as first level or Open Water divers. Prior to the scuttling, doors, windows, hatches and engines were removed while wires were cut in an effort to render the wreck as safe as possible for divers and free divers.
The P31 wreck with its prolific marine life and clear sandy bottom offers enthusiasts many photo opportunities. Shoals of small fish like damselfish live above the P31, Cardinal fish inside it and scorpion fish on and below its decks. Spirographs and colourful Flabellina nudibranchs are often seen hanging on to the algae growing on the steel structure while Amberjacks hunt above the wreck at certain times of the year. Small rays and many fish species live on the sandy bottom around the wreck making this dive a really enjoyable one.
The P31 is also a great attraction for skin divers practicing ‘APNEA’ since it is visible from the surface and only between 10 and 18m deep.
P31 Wreck – Comino – Access
Access to the P31 Wreck is by boat, a 10 minute ride on our dive boat Divemania from Mgarr harbour or a 30 minute scenic trip along the Sanap and Ta’ Cenc cliffs from Xlendi Bay. The boat anchors close to the wreck and a shot line is dropped from the dive platform to facilitate descent and ascent. We often visit the Blue Lagoon or the Crystal lagoon caves after the dive. The P31 wreck is often organised as part of a full day, 2 tank trip to Comino.
P31 Wreck – Comino – Dive
Divers meet on the surface near the dive platform and descend on a shot line before heading off to the bridge, the shallower part of the wreck at a depth of 12 metres. There is no best route around the wreck but divers have ample time to dive around the wreck and explore the bow and the stern as well as the mid-section and the engine room. Divers often spend some time on the sandy bottom looking for rays and the many types of fish that live there. The view of the wreck from afar is also stunning.
Divers swimming through safe open sections of the wreck could easily encounter larger Scorpion fish or Moray eels hiding within. A torch is not absolutely necessary but it does help to spot camouflaged creatures and the colourful anemones within the P31 wreck.
At the end of the dive, divers usually return to the bridge at 12 metres and dive around the chimneys before starting their slow ascent towards the boat. Safety stop is done on the anchor line or on the boat’s shot line.