The AFM Maritime Patrol Boat P33 has been giving its services for 13 years and will now continue providing service – but 27 metres below the sea surface to be enjoyed by divers, just off Żonqor Point.
The boat has been scuttled and submerged to the sea bottom at Marsascala this morning, the third such submerged vessel in the vicinity.
The operation was organised by the Tourism Authority together with the Ministry for Tourism and the Association of Professional Diving Schools after P33 arrived at Żonqor Point from Malta Church Wharf in the Grand Harbour.
P33 was one of various vessels that have been left in an abandoned state in the Grand Harbour, vessels which are now being removed to enable Infrastructure Malta to clean and scrape the sea bottom in the area. P33 saw its beginnings in then West Germany during the 70s and came to Malta at the beginning of the 90s. It has an overall length of 70 feet and is manufactured from a mixture of iron and aluminium.
P33 was submerged in the water from the prow and despite the heat of the day attracted a number of admirers and spectators. As it submerged it was saluted by the AFM.
Among those present was Dominic Vassallo who spent about three-and-a-half years on P33 and who stated to Television Malta he had undergone various experiences on the vessel as well as also having steered it. He worked on the boat between 1990 and 1995 and has many memories and was enabled to experience and learn sea-faring. He said there were moments of entertainment but also moments of sadness when bodies had to be collected.
Vassallo is now happy that P33 will continue beating its fruits.
In a comment to Television Malta, the Executive Head of the Malta Tourism Authority, Johann Buttigieg, explained the plan to submerge the patrol boat was conceived over a number of years, in fact seven years to establish the proper environment after studies. He said that similar arrangements are being made for the vessel Hephaestus.
The Minister for Tourism, Clayton Bartolo, told TVM this operation will strengthen the country’s tourist attraction and will be a special attraction to divers.