Sinking of the Stavronikita
Thirty-seven years ago today, the former Greek cargo vessel the ‘Stavronikita’ was sunk just a quarter of a mile off Barbados’ west coast; the first ship in Barbados to be deliberately sunk to create an underwater attraction.
On the morning of August 26, 1976, while on its way to Barbados from Ireland, carrying a load of 101,000 bags of cement, the 356 foot vessel was ravaged by a fire which started in the Chief Engineer’s cabin. The fire gutted the freighter, claiming the lives of six and injuring three others. The 24 survivors were rescued four days later by a Danish vessel, the ‘Benny Skou,’ which towed the ‘Stavronikita’ to Barbados.
The ship was eventually purchased by the Barbados Government at a public auction for $60,000 to be used as an artificial reef. On November 22, 1978, under the direction of Lieutenant Scott Lyon of the US Naval Forces and his team, the ship was sunk using 200 pounds of explosives packed in six different points of the ship’s hull. The detonation began at 12:30 p.m. and 13 minutes later, the ‘Stavronikita’ met its watery grave some 130 feet beneath the surface. Today, the ‘Stavronikita’ is one of the island’s premier dive sites and is home to numerous corals and fish.[Photo 1 -The Nation, November 22, 1978]