Imperial Eagle

Imperial Eagle wreck


Being a public holiday, the club seized the opportunity to organise another boat dive, this time to the wreck of the Imperial Eagle about 500m to the NE of Qawra Point. This dive always brings back childhood memories, when in the early sixties, we crossed over to Gozo on the ‘Eagle – I still have a vague impression of its varnished woodwork…

Some twenty minutes after leaving the Fekruna quay, the Atlantis II was securely tied to the buoy marking the Imperial Eagle wreck’s location – no anchor was dropped. There was a light Westerly, but freshening up as time went by, but conditions were still very ideal.

The plan was simple – descent down the buoy’s rope, then keeping the reef on the left hand side, arrive on the wreck and explore, then upon leaving the wreck, steer to the left towards the reef, where there is a very picturesque arch, and finally visit the statue of Christ the Mariner (Kristu l-Bahhar).

Christ Statue next to Imperial Eagle wreck Malta
Photo Edward Vella

Descending down the rope / shot line, it became apparent, that visibility was typical of this location, although this time it was very acceptable. The rope is secured to a large concrete block which is situated right next to the statue of Christ, and very close to the reef finger which leads to the wreck. We followed the reef, and in about two to three minutes, the wreck at first a dark blob, materialised into hard lines! The Imperial Eagle lies on a sandy bottom at about 40m.

The decks, and the upper superstructure have all but disappeared, since these were made out of wood, and in the sea, wood is the first to go, leaving a tangle of metal parts, so a bit of caution here is recommended. There is a survivor however, the steering wheel itself, which always makes for an atmospheric picture. The wreck is always dotted by the omni-present black damsel fish (cawl), and on the starboard side, close to the bow, balanced on the railing, as if a long gone passenger there was a large scorpion fish (cippullazza). One of our group also caught a glimpse of the resident grouper, down in the hold.

Wreck in Malta Imperial Eagle
Photo Edward Vella

At these depths, time flies fast – and so does the air supply – so regrettably we had to leave for the next part of the plan – the arch. On leaving the bow, on the left hand side, the reef is already visible, and there one can see the dark recess of the arch. It is covered in multi-coloured sponges, and hanging from it are old net remains and other cordage, which gives it that mysterious atmosphere of the deep. Under a ledge we came across a large whiting (lipp). The arch then exits in the sandy clearing close to the statue of Christ the Mariner – the next stop.

The statue made of concrete never fails to impress me, firstly because of its proportions, and secondly seeing the figure of Christ at these depths is for some reason not out of place, but harmonious with this environment.

A glance at the dive computer however said that ‘no surface time’ time was now 10 minutes, and the shot line was conveniently right next to the statue, so time to ascend to the ideal decompression depth.

A very nice dive, with lots of interesting features – reef, wreck, arch, statue – all within a short distance of each other, and a very well placed shot line, make this a dive not to be missed.