Patrol boat 383 wreck - Varadero

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Patrol boat 383 wreck - Varadero

Originally used as a coastal patrol boat, this 110 metre Soviet destroyer was retained by the Cuban Navy when the Russian forces departed Cuba. The Cuban government sunk this deliberately as an artificial reef in 1996, and she sits in clear waters, upright and intact a short trip from the marina.

The wheelhouse and decks can be reached at a depth of 16 metres, so she is well within reach of Open Water divers, and as the visibility is so good, she makes a picturesque dive.

The keel is at a maximum depth of 36 metres lying on a sandy sea-bed, and the propeller is still attached, so this is a wreck for the experienced diver too.

Large rays inhabit the sands surrounding the wreck, so keep an eye focused away from the infrastructure.

Penetration of this ship is limited pretty much to the wheelhouse and bridge, but access hatches give a good view of some of the holds, filled to the brim with munitions.

A military vessel as she was, the most interesting elements of this dive have to be the deck guns, canons and anti-aircraft weapons. Twin SAM launchers sit just to the rear of amidships, and there is a huge ‘sit-in' twin gun turret to the rear too. Winches and derricks add to the deck equipment still there, and the deck railings embrace the whole ship still.

Gun turrets sit towards the front of the ship on both port and starboard sides, and some impressive deck cannons sit towards the bow too. Encrusted with soft and hard corals, these make for stunning photographs, as does the communications tower and radar dish.

A torpedo that is still complete lies on the deck amidships too, and its twin can be seen on the sea bed in parts.

Marine life is abundant as it has been here long enough for the reef to become established. Moray eels lurk in the darkness of the holds, lionfish of considerable size and variety swim slowly through the wreckage, and barracuda, Atlantic spadefish shoals and jacks patrol the periphery. Yellow tail snapper, large wrasse, and a plethora of small reef fish have made this their home, and flamingo-tongue nudibranchs, red tipped sea goddesses, lobster and the like are all at the party too.

This is one of the most stunning wreck dives ever – due primarily to the fact that the whole ship is diveable in clear, warm waters. Photo opportunities, including the mandatory ‘Titanic' shot on the dramatic bows, are plentiful. Current is minimal for the diver, but enough to keep the marine life happy, and as a result, this wreck delivers the goods.

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