August 11, 2010

C-58 Minesweeper Wreck Site - Advanced Diving Attraction

C58 Minesweeper diveThere is something so beautifully evocative about shipwrecks. Sociologists, historians and psychologists have pondered long and hard about our endless fascination with the story of the Titanic. Their conclusions seem to be that there is something for everyone in the details of that tragic disaster. There are the human interest stories to inspire or break our hearts. There is the sheer horror of the ship sinking. There are the mechanics of such a huge vessel. There is the fledging technology of the Marconi systems. There are the ghosts and portents. There is the shipwreck.

Shipwrecks seem to call to the human soul. Perhaps its born of disquiet; that here is evidence of the achievements of humankind, in all its mammoth, hulking, engineering genius, now left to the ravages of nature. Nature will eventually win, breaking down the steel and wood, and all those fancy furnishings, as the force of the ocean beats against it and the bacteria eats away. Nature 1, Humanity 0.

But in the meantime, there is the awe-inspiring wonder of it all. There is the haunting sight of human things disintegrating; but there is also new life. Where the captain once stood at the wheel, navigating by stars and compass, now there are coral formations and a family of groupers darting through. Where the look-out once climbed, there are manta rays gliding effortlessly through the deep. Where the first mate once consulted his records and rigs, the barracuda snaps for lunch. Where the crew once went about their daily lives, keeping the ship afloat and on course, the coral creatures crawl.

C-58 Minesweeper life


It is this function of shipwrecks, as home to marine life, that saw the deliberate sinking of several vessels off the coast of the Riveria Maya. They had all been military ships, in the United States Navy, during World War II. Later decommissioned, they were sold to the Mexican Navy. Their useful life on the surface of the water eventually became over; but they had further service to complete beneath it. As nature's coral reefs became eroded, there was need for artifical reefs. These ships became humanity's contribution to the cause.

The most famous of these is the C58 General Anaya, which is the location of SCUBA diving expeditions. This American ship had originally been known as the USS Harlequin, built in 1944, in Portland, Oregon, USA. She saw active service as an admiral-class minesweeper, forging ahead of the main fleet of the US Navy ships, neutralizing naval mine bombs, during World War II. In 1962, she was sold to the Mexican Navy, who renamed her C58 General Anaya. There she remained in active service, still as a minesweeper. But she was getting old and unsuitable for purpose. In 1980, she was sunk as an artificial reef, off the coast of Cozumel. Now she lies on the ocean bed and she is beautiful.




For those wishing to undertake this amazing dive, there is the recommendation that you are an experienced diver. The current down to the ship can be quite strong. Once there, though, the bulk of the C58 General Anaya minesweeper will protect you, as it protects the marine life inside. You can enter this ship. Hurricane Wilma tore it into two, in 2005, allowing you easy access into the internal quarters. Alternatively, you can swim around it. Either way, it is a stunning, jaw-dropping sight, which only the intrepid few will ever see.

9 comments:

  1. TESTING; '

    Did it work now?

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  2. It's not showing up for me. >.< But thank you for testing our new comment feed!

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  3. Hey, Merch, Sheb here.
    Whatup?
    AWSOME blog, btw.
    <3

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  4. Lovely writing, as I would expect from you, and you definitely make me want to visit Cancun. Shame I'm not a strong swimmer. I'd probably never get to see this beautiful sight in person.

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  5. There are some dive masters who are happy to take inexperienced divers and children out. However, I am not sure about those who are not strong swimmers. It is always worth asking though.

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  6. P.S. Thank you for the compliment about my writing. :D

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  7. If I ever manage to make a trip out to Cancun, I'll have to work on my swimming first, haha. And you're very welcome. :D

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  8. You do that and I will come and do the dive with you.

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