Discover Travel

Explore a doomed shipwreck near Visakhapatnam

Scuba divers stumble upon a rare find, a centuries-old ship wreck, 30 miles from Bhimli, near Visakhapatnam   | Photo Credit: Special Arangement

Descending to a sunken vessel in the depths of the ocean is a powerful feeling, a thrill that only wreck lovers know best. “It’s a mix of excitement, awe and respect,” says Balaram Naidu, a scuba diver from Visakhapatnam. A few days ago, on a chilly wintry morning, Balaram and dive master Anil Kumar made one of the most spectacular discoveries from this part of the world. On December 21, as they went about their regular dives in the middle of the sea off Bheemunipatnam — a fishing village about 45 kilometres from Visakhapatnam — the duo stumbled upon a centuries-old shipwreck. About 150 metres long, the shipwreck was spread over a 500-metre radius, and had plenty of aqua marine life, some rare. This discovery has opened up a world of wonders for the scuba diving community in India.

A rich marine life surrounding the centuries-old shipwreck, spotted off Bheemunipatnam, near Visakhapatnam

A rich marine life surrounding the centuries-old shipwreck, spotted off Bheemunipatnam, near Visakhapatnam   | Photo Credit: Special Arangement

For years, the fishermen of Bheemunipatnam feared venturing into this zone, believing it to be doomed. The story is that more than 150 years ago, an ill-fated ship sank with all its passengers on board. Ever since, the location of the sunken ship was considered haunted, and locals believed that no fishing boat venturing into that zone would return safe.

For Balaram, it had been a three-year-long mission of unearthing this mystery that finally ended with this chance discovery. “At first, we spotted the deck plates. That was when I knew I had come to the right spot,” he says. A little further ahead was the keel and then the divers saw the boiler, de-linked from the shaft. “All these are intact. The shipwreck is a living reef and an important ecosystem for the creatures that inhabit it,” says Balaram, director, Livein Adventures, a firm that conducts scuba diving courses and activities in Visakhapatnam. A rich marine life — such as ribbonfish, parrotfish, moray eel, lionfish, turtles and spotted sponge corals — now call this wreck home.

But what makes this shipwreck site particularly remarkable and one of its kind is its location at an incredibly low depth of six metres under the sea. “The ocean bed suddenly elevates at this point. It almost felt like as if a mountain had emerged in the middle of the ocean. The ship could have easily misjudged the depth, as in those days there weren’t any navigational tools in place,” says Keshav Ram, a Hyderabad-based scuba diver, who went on the second exploration dive to the wreck site this week. Having scuba dived across India, he is convinced this discovery is a special one. “It is the first proper wreck to be found in mainland India, which will open up a rich history and a treasure trove of aqua marine life,” he adds. According to historians, the sea located north of Bheemunipatnam has the presence of the infamous ‘Santhapalli rocks’, a vulnerable zone for ships due to its dangerously rocky sea bed. The shipwreck is said to be situated here.

Moray eel coming out of the centuries-old ship wreck spotted by scuba divers, 30 miles from Bhimli, near Visakhapatnam

Moray eel coming out of the centuries-old ship wreck spotted by scuba divers, 30 miles from Bhimli, near Visakhapatnam   | Photo Credit: Special Arangement

It takes about a 30-to-45 minute boat ride to reach the shipwreck site from Bheemunipatnam. From here, at a maximum depth of eight metres during high tide, the massive shipwreck offers a great dive for everyone, from the novice to the most experienced wreck diver. The best time for a dive is in the winter months (November to February), when visibility is spectacular.

The Visakhapatnam coast also guards other historically significant wreck sites, including the Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi that now lies somewhere embedded in the seabed close to the coast. During the Second World War, a Japanese submarine Ro-110 was sunk, a couple of nautical miles from the mouth of the Visakhapatnam harbour. These wreck sites remain yet to be explored.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 2:50:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/explore-a-doomed-shipwreck-rumoured-to-be-haunted-near-visakhapatnam/article22411513.ece

Next Story