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.
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.