The number is the ship's old identifier - the wreck is called P29.
Malta's latest wreck was sunk last summer - Elaine Whiteford was among the first divers to get down and inspect it
MALTA PROVIDES A GREAT VARIETY of wreck diving. As well as harbouring a number of ships destroyed during the world wars, it also has a healthy range of deliberately scuttled vessels that are creating artificial reefs and providing easy and accessible wreck diving. The P29 is the latest of several projects being undertaken by the Malta Marine Foundation to encourage marine life and promote recreational diving. The ship was scuttled on 14 August, 2007, at Cirkewwa, just off the north-west coast, near the ferry terminal. Also known as the Boltenhagen, P29 was an East German minesweeper before being commissioned by the Maltese Navy in 1996 as a patrol boat. The wreck is about 170m offshore, between Cirkewwa Point and Lantern Point, near the popular Rozi wreck. It can be dived from shore, but the long surface swim means that many prefer to dive it by boat. The P29 sits perfectly upright at a maximum depth of 36m on an otherwise barren sandy seabed and in clear, blue water. At 52m long and 7m wide, it's the perfect size to explore on a single dive. Assuming you have been dropped at the right place by your skipper (or have navigated correctly from shore), the first thing you see as you descend is the mast. You'll hit the top of it at around 14m, before reaching the bridge another 5m below. Best plan is to head straight to the bottom before working your way slowly up. The first thing to do is to tour the vessel. With visibility of 25-30m, you can see the whole ship at the halfway point. Evidence of P29's German heritage is there, with the former identification number A125 still painted on the side, and labels on control panels written in German. The vessel was thoroughly cleaned, and doors and hatches removed. There are easy swim-throughs and it's safe to penetrate into the hold and engine-room because there is no silt to kick up, no dark corners, and entries/exits are obvious. Many fixtures and fittings remain, so you can wile away your air spotting toilet bowls, the ship's tannoy and the like.
THE BRIDGE IS THE PERFECT SIZE for divers, and you can hover where the captain once stood, pretending to be in command. As I write, the P29 is still fairly devoid of marine life, but the shoals of small fish congregating on the bridge and flashing in and out of the portholes are a sign that it is being attracted to the wreck. The mast is a good place to linger for a few minutes on your ascent, before your mid-water safety stop at 5m. It seems an irresistible draw for divers to strike a 'king of the world' pose here while the chromis look on! On a single tank of air, you can spend about 40 minutes on the dive. Although over 30m deep, P29 is essentially a multi-level dive, and approaching it in this way means you can get some decent bottom time. This enjoyable dive will get better over the years as marine life takes hold. It's not hardcore or tekkie, nor is it the Thistlegorm; but it's perfect for a relaxing, non-strenuous and fun holiday dive - which is what Malta does very well.