The ferry “Cariddi” was launched in 1930 in Trieste and was one of the first units of the fleet of the State Railways, operating in the Strait of Messina, equipped with diesel engines. Its original appearance doesn’t correspond to the current one because in 1951, after a scuttling happened during the Second World War (August 1943), the ship was rebuilt after having been cut into two parts (fore and aft), extending it 11 m with the addition of a second funnel, adding a row of railway tracks and modifying the part of the bow in order to accommodate a greater number of cars.
The second launch took place on Oct. 20, 1953 and, after the necessary tests carried out in the port of Genoa, was received on next November 27 with big celebrations in the waters of the Strait of Messina, almost in a role of flagship of the fleet of ferries. The “Cariddi” resumed service the following December 30, ten years after its scuttling, and for the next 38 years ensured the ferrying of trains and cars between the shores of Sicily and Calabria.
The last trip of “Cariddi” occurred on Feb. 14, 1991, after when the State Railways placed it in disarmament and sold it to the Regional Province of Messina. In 1993 the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage of the Region of Sicily even declared it “good of historical and ethno-anthropological interest“. Nevertheless, the Province had difficulties in managing the ship, abandoned docked at the pier of the port of Messina, and for several years it has been the victim of theft and looting, as well as of a fire.
For reasons of space, the ship was moved to just outside the port of Messina, near the ferry terminals of private companies and, in that position so vulnerable to storms and bad weather, its fate was sealed… On 14 March 2006 the “Cariddi” began its slow and inexorable sinking, couching on the bottom, a little bit tilted on its left side.
Today the wreck – on which we can dive only with permission by the local Coast Guard – is just a few meters from the Sicilian coast, with the stern still partially emerged and with the bow, with its wide doors for the entry and exit of trains, lying at 40 m depth.
Hit daily by the intense currents of the Straits, the “Cariddi” wreck is already covered by many incrustations and full of life. Its spacious rooms are home to numerous burrows for many species of fishes, for mollusks and for crustaceans, as well as forming a picturesque and privileged setting for underwater photographers, thanks to the beautiful bright views and thanks to the visibility generally very good.
|Dive Type||Recreational Dive|
|Min. depth||0 m|
|Max depth||40 m|
|Bottom type||Steep descent of gravel and sand|
|Difficulty||Medium. The visibility may be good or excellent, but there can be present currents from moderate to intense (recommended the presence of expert guides).|
|Level required||From 1st level (Open Water Diver) onwards|
|Interest||Historical, biological and photographic interest.|
|Notes||Although the wreck is underwater only since 1996, the effect of the intense currents of the Strait made it covered by a dense presence of algae, sponges and coelenterates. There are numerous colonies of annelids Filograna implexa. Abundant presence of fishes in shoals and in their dens.|