Bermudans had long discussed the fate of the Niobe Corinthian before the government finally sank it last April, 11 miles off the north shore of Bermuda. This followed close behind the purposeful sinking of the Sea Venture, a large ferry, off the west end of the island. Its namesake wrecked in Bermuda in 1609 and scholars widely think it was Shakespeare’s inspiration for the story “The Tempest.” The Corinthian is the latest of more than 300 wrecks scattered amongst Bermuda’s huge expanse of reefs, making the island a great destination for wreck diving given its proximity to the US seaboard, only 90-minutes flight time from New York.
The Niobe Corinthian
The ship was built in 1967 and weighed just under 1,000 tons. It’s around 175 feet long, with numerous decks. Originally built by Shell Oil as an oil-rig service tender, the refitted Niobe Corinthian first came to Bermuda in 2005 as a floating casino. Almost from the beginning, however, the boat was dogged by controversy. Its operators attempted to sidestep the island’s anti-gaming laws and the ship initially operated 12 miles offshore in international waters, where gambling was legal. But the ship still had to use Bermuda as its home port, and police raided it in August 2006, seizing some 100 gaming machines.
After that the ship fell into disrepair and was eventually sold off to help pay outstanding crew wages.
The Bermuda government took control of the ship in 2014. It remained tied alongside one of the marina docks until 2017. Early this year, workers finally made it safe for purpose-sinking as a dive site. The task cost over $300,000, paid for thanks to the Stempel Foundation. The hard work of government employees and members of Bermuda Intact Wreck Initiative (BIWI) helped ready the ship.
The wreck lies in 70 feet (21 m) of water. The top of its pilot house around is 18 feet (5.5 m) below the surface. Lower deck areas can get silted and it is dark and somewhat cramped. Therefore, only those with wreck certification should attempt to explore these areas. The upper deck areas are much brighter and more open, making them easy to dive. Dives on this wreck should be done using licensed, reputable local dive operators. Try Dive Bermuda or Blue Water Divers.
By guest author Mark Diel