For divers in Cyprus, the Zenobia is it. Sadly, that’s become past tense on account of stupid bureaucracy on the part of the Port of Larnaca Authority. Here’s what’s happened.
Wreck of the Zenobia
The wreck of the Zenobia sits at a depth of 42 metres on the seabed with the top of the wreck just 15 metres down making it accessible to novices yet still challenging for advanced divers.
The 12,000 tonne 178 metre long ferry sank in 1980, taking with it some 1,000 lorries, industrial machinery and other cargo.
The wreck is internationally known among divers and is widely regarded as the best dive site in Cyprus
What’s the problem?
The story starts two years ago when in a tragic event, a diver died while diving the Zenobia.
The Port of Larnaca Authority’s General Director Yiannakis Kokkinos said that the family of a woman who died while diving in 2010 were “Considering legal action against port authorities because they consider us responsible for her death”.
Catherine Vicar, 33, was found unconscious in the engine room of the Zenobia shipwreck in October 2010. She had separated from her group and ran out of oxygen while underwater.
The result is the Port of Larnaca Authority has decided to ban diving in port waters for ‘legal reasons’ and the port’s waters include the wreck of the Zenobia.
Cyprus Port Authority
The head of port authorities, Chryssis Prentzas said they had no choice but to ban diving in port waters.
“Until those interested get the necessary licences, port authorities will not allow diving”, Prentzas said.
“It’s the Cyprus Port Authorities’ (CPA) social obligation to ensure all members of the public who do this will do so within the context of health and safety”, Prentzas said.
CPA have evoked legislation dating back to 1973 and says that anyone swimming or diving anywhere that falls within its jurisdiction (three nautical miles) needs a licence.
CPA’s Kokkinos said that the creation of a legal framework to regulate was lacking and the ban was an interim compromise. In the meantime, it is not clear how licences will be issued.
Until the mess gets sorted out, diving the Zenobia has become a no no. And given Cyprus’ bureaucratic skills, it’s unlikely the ban is going to get lifted anytime soon.