At the bottom of the sea, near Prevlaka – a small peninsula in southern Croatia, near the border with Montenegro – lies the famous Kaiser Franz Joseph cruiser. Built in 1890, it was an Austro-Hungarian cruiser that sailed for only 27 years. After sailing the Nort and Baltic seas, Asia, Lisbon and Creta Kaiser Franz Joseph cruiser was given to the French as a war reparation by the Austro-Hungarian government and it was anchored at Zanjica Bay. The boat participated in the WWI and was heavily armed and considered one of the flagship of the Austro-Hungarian navy.
On October 17, 1919, this famous cruiser was over-loaded with dismantled heavy machinery, and as a result, sank during the storm which was raging that day. It was filled with explosives and some of them still lay near the anchor of the boat, as a reminder of the boat’s original purpose. After the ship Kaiser Franz Joseph sunk, its cannons were removed in the last century, in an attempt to retrieve some of its inventory. The portions of the wreck were recovered by the Dutch in 1922 and by the Yugoslav salvages in 1967, but these were only successful in reclaiming part of the ship’s inventory, while the majority of it still lies in the sea waiting for eager divers to explore it.
The ship is in the state of decay and covered with the rust but you can still find a lot of different types of flora and fauna near and on it. Scorpionfish and sulfur sponges can be found on the ship along with various species of algae. On the second mast, you can find the yellow sulfur sponges and cardinalfish which combined with the grey color of the ship make for an extraordinary site to see.
The site of the Kaiser Franz Joseph wreckage is not easy to find, so finding a guide who will lead you to it will help, that is unless you like „digging in the dark“. The ship lies on the sheltered side of Pt. Ostro and is accessible only by a boat. Descent starts at the anchoring line and follows it downwards. If the visibility is good on the day of the dive, the wreck is detectable at 15 meters. It is recommended to start the dive in the mid-section, between two masts. The divers can explore the ship’s interior and imagine how the ship looked at its full glory. At the bow, divers can still see the remaining explosive that lies near the anchor of the ship.
Even though 90 years have passed, the sunken beauty is still a site not to be missed while visiting Croatia.
Access: from boat
Depth: 15 – 45 meters
Conditions of diving: visibility is good (5 – 10 meters), currents are slight and the best time to come to explore the site is in the summer (May to September) when water temperatures average around 20C and air temperature average is 23C.
Guides: diving centers in Dubrovnik or Cavtat.
Recommended for: for all diving categories
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