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More Dive Trips

DIVING A RUSSIAN BUILT WARSHIP IN CUBA by Andrew Falconer

 

The Caribbean island of Cuba, for a long time isolated from the rest of the world by politics, is gradually opening up to tourism, and among other things has some interesting diving opportunities. One of these is a Russian Koni 2 class anti submarine frigate named “Monkada,” built in 1986 in the Zelenodolsk shipyard, the last of three that once belonged to the Cuban navy. With a fully loaded displacement of 1,900 tons, a length of 95m, beam of 12.8m and armament consisting of 4 Stykx anti ship missile launchers, 4 x76.2mm dual purpose guns, 4 x 30mm guns, all of which are still in place.

 

Descending down the line to the ship

One of two 30mm guns amidships

 

 

The Monkada (hull number 383) was sunk as a dive wreck off the resort town of Varadero in 27m of water near Piedra del Norte in 1998 (Fidel Castro, who turned 90 while I was in Cuba was once a keen diver).

 

 

The bow of the ship from two different angles

 

 

I dived with Barracuda Dive, turning up at their shop and was amazed to find over 20 dive masters / instructors being briefed on the days diving. However they went their separate ways, and I ended up in a party of 12 divers, split into three groups of four to dive the wreck. After a bus ride to a marina, we all left on a fast comfortable boat (previously used for whale watching) to our destination about an hour away.



One of two forward rocket launcher nests

The forward 76mm gun



The water was so warm (29 degrees centigrade) that I didn’t use a wet suit (there were none available for hire anyway) and didn’t feel cold. The descent down the line revealed the ship upright at about on a sandy bottom. Visibility was fairly good. I was very impressed by the guns and rocket launchers that all remained intact.

 

 

Another 76mm gun near the stern of the ship

Another view of the 30mm midship gun turret

 

 

We swam as a group around the ship starting amid ships, then around the stern and up the starboard side to the bow, ending the dive by ascending gradually around the superstructure amid ships. We did not do any penetration of the ship. A second shallower dive nearby was part of the trip, which had some nice soft corals and a large school of juvenile barracuda as highlights.

 

 

There are nice soft corals but no hard ones

Large school of juvenile barracuda

 

 

August 2016