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Dive Briefing - The S.S. StavronikitaS.S. Stavronikita - Barbados

The S.S. Stavronikita is a Greek freighter, which caught fire in the early part of the 1970s. After being adrift for over three days, she was finally rescued and brought to Barbados, where her blackened, burned out hull sat for a number of years before she was stripped and finally sunk in November, 1978. The 'stavro', as she is referred to by dive operators, sits perfectly upright in 127 feet at her stern, with her forward mast reaching to within 18 feet of the surface.

After almost 20 years of submersion, this wreck has been transformed into a hive of activity, her hull is adorned with sea wipts, soft and hard corals, sponges and gorgoncans, her masts and upper cabins are swarmed with Sargent Majors, Tangs, Blue Cromis and Red Hinds. Among others, Barracudas, Mackerels and Turtles are common visitors to the wreck.

There are 17 profiles that take you through the cabins and hull, ranging from Open Water to Advanced and Wreck Specialty certification levels.

Profile 17: Multi-level computer assisted - Intermediate level

Maximum depth - 100 feet
Average depth - 70 feet
Bottom time - 23 minutes with a safety stop at 15 to 25 feet for 5 minutes. Air checks at 1500 psi / 100 bar and 750 psi / 50 bar. Dive ends with a minimum of 650 psi / 45 bar or time, whichever comes first.

Our dive starts on the top of her forward mast, which is a mere 18 feet from the surface. We descend along the mooring line, which is anchored near to the top of the mast. Once there you descend along her mast to the deck on her port side to a depth of 75 feet. After reaching this point we descend one deck to a depth of 93 feet and approach her main cabins from the port side. you will enter the passageway in single file as it is only 3 feet wide. Once inside the passageway we turn left into her main cabin at the first doorway, about 20 feet along. As you enter the cabin give your eyes a chance to adjust. You will notice that there are oval portholes on the left (3 1/2 x 1 1/2 feet wide). Follow these portholes across the ship to the starboard side. You should be slightly positive at this point, and your swimming position should be with your head slightly down, fins up. In this position you will avoid stirring the silt up and at the same time avoid your hoses from being snagged on the ceiling.

On the starboard side you will notice that a large section of the deck and side of the ship has been removed. This was done in order to accommodate large equipment which was removed from the ship prior to sinking. Continue along her starboard side for about 60 feet where you will exit through a doorway and over her main cargo hold. You must now cross over to the port side and wait while the other divers exit the cabin. Our dive continues along her port side, passing her mid mast and cabin until you reach the stern cabin. Here you have reached your maximum depth of 100 feet at her deck.

The dive now continues along her starboard side until you reach a stairwell. Ascend this stairwell and one deck up to the smokestack and wait for the remaining divers. The second penetration will be made two cabins above the the first penetration at 75 feet. This cabin is small with lots of natural light. Upon entering the cabin you will notice a large square hole in the floor. Through this came a large spiral staircase which collapsed on impact after she was sunk. Proceed through this hole to the mid-cabin at 85 feet. You will now be facing the port side of the ship. Some 35 feet away is your exit point. This is a cylinder-like opening about 5 feet high by 2 1/2 feet wide. The dive continues up one deck, through a shute next to the smokestack. This will put you next to the entrance of the wheel house at 65 feet. From here it's back to the forward mast where you will make your ascent and safety stop.

Caution: This dive, and all dives on the 'stavro', should be made under the direct supervision of a certified instructor. You should never enter an overhead area with less than a third of your air supply remaining in your cylinder. There should be an exit point within 15 feet of you t all times. Do not enter into passageways or cabins unless you can see your exit point. Do not hold onto water pipes or other parts of the ceiling as this could cause objects to fall on you.


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St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, Barbados, West Indies.
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