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Zenobia, Cyprus

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Located in the Mediterranean Sea, 1.5 km away from the port of Larnaca, Cyprus, this 560 ft (172m) long roll on-roll off ferry sank on June 7, 1980 after an error in her computerized ballasting system caused heavy list to port. Initially, the list was corrected, but then worsened as her cargo shifted and finally she was left to sink just outside the Larnaca post and harbor. Swedish-made, she was on her maiden voyage between Yugoslavia and Syria. 

She landed on the bottom on the port side and is totally intact. Because of the sheer size of the wreck, it is possible to have an awesome dive with a single tank at average depth of 80 ft (25m), or you could have a full-blown serious deco/penetration dive at the depth of 140 ft (43m). 

Highlights include: 108 articulated lorries that were there at the time of the sinking; all kind of penetration opportunities (bridge; middle car deck, upper car deck and the engine room); all kinds of machinery; masts and superstructure; lifeboats still hanging on their davits; some of the trucks still hanging on their chains; sinks,toilets and vending machine in the cafeteria and other items too numerous to mention.  Water temps range from high 60s (18C) in the winter to 80s (26C) above the termocline in the late summer and the visibility is usually between 50+ to 100+ ft (15 to 30m). Wreck is accessible all year around, although there are significantly less people on her in the winter (I dove her once on Xmas day and there were only 2 of us there). It is so huge, that unless 2 and more groups are trying to penetrate the same space at the same time, you never feel crowded.

In 2007, I did a few long dives almost entirely inside the wreck visiting middle and upper car decks and the engine room. Visibility inside was mostly excellent, except a few spots with some milky substance. Deco was very entertaining watching single tank divers swim around in huge groups or taking pictures of a visiting submarine

Engine Room

One way to enter the engine room was from one of the car decks. The room itself was very spacious but rather disorienting.

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Middle Car Deck

This was penetration paradise. Lots of trucks with various cargoes from all over the world. Trucks all tumbled to what used to be the port side and is now the bottom. Some were upside down, some on their sides. The hold was extremely wide when Zenobia was afloat and is very tall now that she is on her port side. We stayed close to the bottom looking at the trucks and ceiling was a long ways away. The only source of light was near the stern entrance doors and light was not visible 100ft in.

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The most interesting cargoes included the bus with the Baghdad plate on it, little blue car (reportedly, the only car in the sea of trucks and buses), cement mixer (or something looking like it) and some structure with the big wheel (that could have been a part of cement mixer as they were next to each other).

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Visibility inside the hold was excellent except for a few spots close to the bottom that had a layer of milky substance in it.

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Upper car deck.

This deck had openings on both ends - one large at the stern, creating some striking photo opportunities and a smaller one near the bow superstructure. Most interesting items in this deck included truck full of bones near the stern entrance, cargo of blue bottles filled with substance lighter than water (hence their location at the ceiling of that compartment) and writings on the bulkhead near the other end.

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Exterior - bow, anchors, lifeboats, structures, twin screws

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Hanging Trucks, Trucks on the bottom and Eggs

Some of the 108 lorries (trucks) were located at the top deck. Most collapsed to the bottom. There were at least two still hanging from their chains a few years ago. Only one was still hanging on my most recent visit (July 2007) and even that looked like it would go at any moment. Quite a few trucks were thrown around the wreck on the bottom, including the one carrying eggs. The amount of eggs decreased quite dramatically between 2001 (when I previously dove it) and 2007.

Hanging Trucks and Eggs - 2001:

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Hanging Truck, Trucks resting on the bottom and Eggs - 2007:

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Cafeteria and washrooms

Due to the position of the wreck, the cafeteria and washrooms represent a giant open space. Windows towards the bow still have glass in them. Carpet deteriorated somewhat between 2001 and 2007 and is not longer bright red. It is possible to penetrate crew quarters from this area, but they are tight and somewhat unstable from what I heard, so I decided against it.

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Decompression time flies by watching the groups of recreational divers passing by and enjoying submarine hunting. Marine life is also quite healthy.

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