Top Dives: World War Two wrecks in Malta

Part one of our top tips for diving in the waters off Malta

The Maori was the second vessel of that name in the British Navy, the first having been a torpedo boat destroyer built on the Clyde in 1909.

HMS Maori

Maori took part in many actions, including the night attack on the German battleship Bismark, before being sunk by German bombs off Malta.

Built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd, of Govan, HMS Maori was a British Destroyer of 1,850 tons. She was launched by Mrs. W. J. Jordan, wife of the High Commissioner for New Zealand, in September 1937.

  The Maori was the fourth of the Tribal Class to be launched and sister ship to the Gurkha. This particular class was a distinctive departure in destroyer construction at the time, being much larger than any previously evolved.

The Maori was the second vessel of that name in the British Navy, the first having been a torpedo boat destroyer built on the Clyde in 1909.

In 1940, Maori convoyed troops from Norway. During an air attack on the ship, several soldiers were slightly wounded by shrapnel.

Then, in May 1941, she took part in the dramatic pursuit and destruction of the German battleship Bismarck – firing a single torpedo at the German giant.

Soon after, in December that same year, Commander R. E. Courage, and the ship’s company took part in the ‘brilliant night action’ in the Mediterranean in which two Italian cruisers and a U-boat were sunk and an Italian torpedo boat severely damaged.

 Her extraordinary career ended when she was sunk at her moorings in Malta Grand Harbour on February 12th, 1942, after being attacked by Luftwaffe aircraft during the intense bombardment of the island.

Eventually, she was raised and scuttled off Fort Saint Elmo in July 1945.

Unsurprisingly, she has become a popular dive site. The bow section lies in the sand at a depth of around 14 metres, whilst the aft section of the ship was abandoned in deeper waters. Much of the forward superstructure is extant, including the two front gun bases.

HMS Stubborn

The HMS Stubborn – with her impressive 13 x 21-inch torpedoesenjoyed a glorious War, spending much of her time patrolling home waters and the freezing depths off Scandinavia with a crew complement of 48 men. She also saw assignments in the Pacific Far East – where she sank the Japanese destroyer Nadakaze in the Java Sea.

Stubborn survived the Second World War and was deliberately sunk on April 30th, 1946 as target off Qawra Point, Malta.

 The wreck, which is enjoying a huge surge in popularity, is located about three nautical miles north-east of St Paul’s Bay and sits upright at a depth of 57-meters. She is only accesible to the experienced diver, being a decompression dive. She remains in generally excellent condition but has a slight list towards her starboard side.

Tomorrow, the Famagusta Gazette continues our dive at The Polynesien and an RAF bomber!