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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sri Lanka Dive Sites – Historical Shipwreck Sites

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Over 100 Sri Lanka Dive Sites are related to historical shipwrecks in Sri Lankan waters. They are scattered around the country, and there may be many unknown historical shipwrecks around the country. Most of the identified historical shipwrecks belong to the colonial period, and the oldest shipwreck site identified is the 2000 years old Godawaya Shipwreck Site, the oldest shipwreck site in the Asia-Pacific Region. Most of the identified shipwreck sites were in service from 1850 to 1950. The deepest known shipwreck lies 65-67 meters under the sea.

Shipwreck Site
Shipwreck Site Photo Credit: Rasika Muthucumarana

The Sri Lanka Dive Sites Distribution and Interactive Map – Historical Shipwrecks and Shipwreck Sites

The Sri Lanka dive sites related to identified historical shipwrecks are scattered around the country. The National Shipwreck Database of Sri Lanka developed by the Central Cultural Fund provides the distribution of known ship and plane wreck sites based on the administrative provinces of Sri Lanka. The following table shows the distribution.

Province Wrecks
Eastern 33
Southern 32
Western 27
Northern 12
North-Western 3

Source: https://nsd.ccf.gov.lk/

To find out the locations of the sites, please use the interactive map of the Sri Lanka National Shipwreck Database. This interactive shipwreck site map will provide a good insight into the distribution of the sites. The filtering option of the interactive map will allow filtering the sites by depth, sunk year, province, legal status, access restriction.

Sri Lanka Dive Sites Shipwreck Distribution
Interactive Map of Shipwreck Sites

A list of Sri Lanka Dive Sites with Historically Significant that dive centers allowed to take divers

Antiquities Ordinance protects some shipwreck sites. Access to around 30 sites is restricted in Sri Lanka, especially the sites in the Galle and Trincomalee harbors. There are over 50 wonderful historic shipwreck sites around the country where commercial diving centers take their customers. Most of the sites are that diving centers take customers are in the Sothern Province of Sri Lanka. This may be due to the fact the southern costs are more popular among tourists. This list is from the Dive Sri Lanka website by Dharshana Jayawardena.

Wreck and Year of sinking Location Depth Our Rating Commercial Dive Center Access
MV Astoria(?) Colombo 24M Average No
MV Tricolor (?) Beruwala 65M Excellent No
Condolidated Catalina PBY-5A Aircraft 42m Good Not opened for diving yet
Hardingham Colombo 21M Not Evaluated Special permission required
Avondster 1659 Galle (Harbor) 5M Not Evaluated Special permission required
Dolfijn 1663 Galle (Harbor) Unknown Not Evaluated Special permission required
Hercules 1661 Galle (Harbor) Unknown Not Evaluated Special permission required
Admiralty Floating Dock 26 Trincomalee Unknown Not Evaluated Special permission required
Black Coral Wreck Colombo 40 M Excellent Yes
Lotus Barge Colombo 28 M Excellent Yes
Cardinal Barge Colombo 29 M Below Average Yes
Clarke Wreck Colombo 29 M Good Yes
Toilet Barge Colombo 32M Good Yes
Thermopylae Sierra Colombo 23M Excellent Yes
Taprobane North Wreck (Perseus 1917?) Colombo 40M World Class Yes
Taprobane North Barge Colombo 40M Excellent Yes
SS Worcestershire Colombo 57M Excellent Yes
Chief Dragon Car Wreck Colombo 34.5M Excellent Yes
Taprobane East Wreck Colombo 32M Excellent Yes
Battery barge Colombo 45M Excellent Yes
Medhufaru Colombo 30M Excellent Yes
Pecheur Breton Cargo Wreck Colombo 33M Excellent Yes
Trug Colombo 33M Excellent Yes
The Coal Ship (Hardingham or Delhi Coal?) Colombo 26M Average Yes
The Conch Hikkaduwa 20M Excellent Yes
Earl of Shaftesbury Hikkaduwa 12-14M Good Yes
Norsa Hikkaduwa 15M Not Evaluated Yes
Aenos 1956 Dodanduwa Unknown Not Evaluated Yes
Arcturus Galle 18M Not Evaluated Yes
Alliance Galle 23M Not Evaluated Yes
Bottle Wreck Galle 24M Not Evaluated Yes
Crispigi Cross Galle 16M Not Evaluated Yes
Ethopy 1877 Galle 15M Not Evaluated Yes
Lord Nelson Galle Unknown Not Evaluated Yes
SS Orestes Galle (Harbor) 24m Good Yes
Rangoon Galle 30M Excellent Yes
MV Cordiality Trincomalee (Pulmudai to North) 18M Excellent Yes
The British Sergeant Vakarai 26M Excellent Yes
Lady McCullum SS Vakarai 17M Average Yes
Gladys Moller SS and the wreck graveyard in Passikudah Wreck 10M Average Yes
World War II Aircraft Trincomalee (Harbor) 24M Average to Good Yes
Sri Lankan Navy Chinese Gun Boats Trincomalee (Harbor) 18 M Good Yes
Irrakandy Wreck (SS Ava) Trincomalee 9.5M Excellent Yes
H.M.S Diomede Trincomalee 42M Below Average Yes
Flute Overness 1704 Great Basses Unknown Not Evaluated Yes with a special arrangement
Alette Adriana 1760’s Great Basses Unknown Not Evaluated Yes with a special arrangement
Daedulus Little Basses Unknown Not Evaluated Yes with a special arrangement
HMS Hollyhock Kalmunai 42M Excellent Yes with a special arrangement
MFA Athelstane Kalmunai 42M Excellent Yes with a special arrangement
MV Ledra Kalmunai 13M Below Avg Yes with a special arrangement
H.M.S Hermes Batticaloa 42M-54M Lifetime Experience (Excellent+) Yes with a special arrangement

Learn before you dive

National Shipwreck Database of Sri Lanka
National Shipwreck Database of Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka National Shipwreck Database provides historical, legal, biodiversity information on identified ship and plane wreck sites. It is a good source for amateur or professional divers to learn more about shipwrecks and shipwreck sites before they dive. The information you learn from this site will provide you good background about the site and you can look for the specific details of the wreck site when you dive. This site provides reliable and accurate information collected by the Maritime Archaeology Unit, Sri Lanka Navy, Department of Archaeology National Aquatic Research & Development Agency, etc. The following key features of the database will allow you to learn interactively.

Interactive Map

Locate a shipwreck using the interactive map. This map provides filtering options to you to find in-depth details of each shipwreck site.

Maritime Timeline

This interactive timeline will tell the story of Maritime Archaeology in Sri Lanka, how it began and developed with time.

The Story of Godawaya

Discovery of the oldest shipwreck site in the Asia-Pacific Region. Find out when & where the wreck lays. The excavations and the artifacts were found.

Shipwreck Dashboard

Dashboard and a searchable list of shipwrecks around the country. It also contains interactive charts to learn more about the wrecks.

A list of Diving Centers in Sri Lanka that take customers to historical shipwreck sites

There are over 24 diving centers around the country that will take you to the historical shipwrecks and sites. Here is the list of diving centers prepared by the Dharshana Jayawardena. Most of these diving centers have instructors and professional equipment. The pricing will vary with the shipwreck site. This is a list compiled by Dharshana Jayawardena.

Location Center
Kalpitiya Kalpitiya Diving Center
http://kalpitiyadivingcenter.com/index.htm
Epic Encounters
http://www.epic-encounters.com/
Negombo Batticaloa Trincomalee Sri Lanka Diving Tours
http://www.srilanka-divingtours.com/
Negombo Colombo Divers
http://www.colombodivers.com
Colombo Island Scuba
http://www.islandscuba.net
Bentota Sunshine Diving
http://www.srilankawatersports.com/snorkeling-diving-srilanka.html
Bentota
Trincomalee
Scuba Sri Lanka
https://www.facebook.com/ScubaSriLanka
Beruwala
Trincomalee
Ypsylon Tourist Resort & Diving School
Seenigama
Hikkaduwa
Dive Seenigama
http://www.diveseenigamadivelanka.com/index.html
Hikkaduwa
Trincomalee
Poseidon Dive Station
http://www.divingsrilanka.com
Hikkaduwa Blue Deep
http://bluedeepdiving.com/
Hikkaduwa Barracuda
http://www.hikkabarracuda.com/
Hikkaduwa International Diving School
http://theinternationaldivingschool.com/
Hikkaduwa Dive for you
http://diveforyou.com/
Unawatuna Unawatuna Diving Center
http://www.unawatunadiving.com
Unawatuna Sea Horse Divers
http://www.seahorsedivinglanka.com/
Unawatuna Submarine Diving School
https://www.submarinediving.center/
Unawatuna Pearl Divers
http://www.unawatunadive.com
Weligama Weligama Bay Dive Center
http://www.scubadivingweligama.com/
Matara Polhena Diving Center
https://www.polhenadiving.com/
Vakarai
Passekudah
Scuba Addicts
https://www.scubaaddicts.lk/
Passekudah LSR Travel
http://www.lsrtravel.com/diving-watersports/diving
Trincomalee Nilaveli Diving Center
http://www.nilavelidiving.com

 

Special thanks should go to the Rasika Muthucumarana and Sri Lanka National Shipwreck Database developed by the Central Cultural Fund, Maritime Archaeology Unit, Institue of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, and Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Dharshana Jayawardena, without his approval to publish the list of wrecks that commercial diving centers can access, this article would be less meaningful, thank you Dharshana.

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