BA chart 3323, inset
The ten year old 3,500 ton freighter, Maldive Victory, struck the Hulhule Airport reef at full speed on Friday, 13th of February 1981. All the passengers and crew survived, and what was a disaster for the shipping company soon became a bonus for the local diving industry, which was crying out for a wreck dive to add to the established dives of North Male.
Hold & booms at the mast house
Bags of old cargo
The cargo including two limousines and several thousand bottles of liquor where mostly recovered during a nine-month salvage operation that saw the wreck stripped of its cargo and anything else of value, though a few cassette recorders can still be seen on the deck. The ship sank in 35 metres of water and within moments sea life took up residence on this perfect artificial reef, the wreck lies upright on the sandy bottom with the bow facing north. The anchor hanging on its chain from the bow actually moves in the strong current.
The Maldive Victory, the most famous of Maldivian shipwrecks, was sailing to the Maldives capital, Male, from Singapore with a cargo of supplies for resort islands. When she sank panic spread through the island when it became known that the long awaited foodstuffs and the building materials were lying on the bottom of the ocean, and so a number of salvage teams quickly assembled, made up mostly of local divers but also by diving instructors from nearby islands.
Holds #1 & #2
They were successful in bringing a great deal of merchandise to the shore, but most of the goods had been ruined by contact with the salt water, and the financial loss was enormous. Sea water, which exerted so much pressure at the depth of 35 metres (115 feet), that corks were actually pushed back into the bottles, penetrated into thousands of bottles of wine and other types of liquor. Even two brand-new automobiles, which had been loaded onto the deck, were turned into useless hulks. Even today bits of scattered cargo are found in the hold of this 110-meter (360 feet) long wreck.
The sailors and the few passengers aboard managed to make their way to the landing strip, only about thirty metres (a hundred feet) away; all were rescued, and none were even injured. The freighter was only ten years old, and hailed from Singapore; the holds were full of merchandise, chiefly for the tourist facilities.
Aft propeller still there
Pardeep going up
We went down from the buoy attached to the aft samson post. The current was outward abt 1knot. We pulled ourselves down the rope to the mast and from there in the lee of the current we made our way down to the deck. After that we examined the forward mooring deck and holds and made our way aft. Aft was another hold & the superstructure. We swam around the accommodation and ended up on the bridge. After this we were almost done with our air so we made our way back to the aft mast and went up the same way we came with a decompression stop.