Despite being a relatively new wreck, marine life is very much thriving here. The tug boat is home to many nudibranchs, the peculiar-looking soft-bodied, marine molluscs known for their extraordinary colours and striking forms. At 30 metres in length and 9.5 metres height without the mast, you may enter the wreck and swim through the wheelhouse and engine. Interestingly, in the rearmost compartment of the wreck’s deck at a depth of around 16 metres there’s a geocache.
Shore or boat
How to get there
Exiles is an area in the town of Sliema, located on the north east coast of the island of Malta. A very popular town among locals and tourists alike, getting there couldn’t be more effortless. Street signs directing you to Sliema are dotted everywhere, no matter where your departure point is, while there is ample public transport if you don’t have your own car. The dive site itself is located just down the road from the local playground.
Explore Exiles Tug 2
Built by the Malta Drydocks in 1975 for the Chinese Government, the tugboat’s original name was Tuo Lun Er Hao and it was registered in Tientsin, China despite spending all her working life in Malta. With a gross weight of 141 tonnes and 30 metres in length, the tugboat was used to build Dock No. 6, otherwise known as the China Dock project in Grand Harbour’s French Creek. After 10 years in operation, Tug 2 was decommissioned and bought by Bezzina Marine Services Ltd. where she was docked in their shipyard for 13 years. Then, in 2013 she was scuttled off the Exiles coast in Sliema to form an artificial reef.
The wreck was originally sunk on the sand parallel with the reef at a depth of 22 metres and around 250 metres off the Exiles shoreline, however, the tropical storm that hit the island in 2016 moved the Tug 2 some 30 metres east, turning 90 degrees clockwise and crashing her bow into the reef. The remaining part remains intact.
What to look out for
What to look out for
How to dive the site
A great dive for all levels of freedivers since it is a relatively shallow dive site, you’ll need around 10 minutes to get to the wreck, but if you follow the reef and sand border line there’s no chance you’ll miss it. And while you’re in the area, make sure you explore the Exiles reef, a well established dive site. Shallow with narrow gullies and overhangs, the Exile Reef’s main highlight is the posidonia fields and the diverse fish life. The wide eyed flounder is common towards the sandy parts, while along the wall you may encounter cuttlefish and dusky groupers.
Bonus tip: The Exiles area becomes super busy during the height of summer so beware of boat traffic while freediving. Yellow marker buoys for the wreck and reef are usually in place most especially during the summer months.
How to dive the site
A major residential and commercial area, Sliema is a bustling town thanks to its wide variety of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes, while nightlife here is quite prolific. Once a quiet fishing village, Sliema got its name from the Maltese word which means peace. An affluent town on the peninsula across Marsamxett Harbour and with spectacular views of Valletta, it once featured grand villas, but today it is ringed with modern apartment blocks, some of which are amongst the tallest buildings on the island. As a result, it has become one of the most densely populated towns in Malta.
Lining the coastline is a promenade known as the Sliema Front, popular with walkers and joggers and particularly perfect for moonlit strolls by the sea. The town also has several rocky beaches where you can enjoy a swim, while the many hotels all along the coast offer water sports.
The area called Exiles is also known as St. Julian’s Point after St. Julian’s Tower, a landmark in the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to access the Tug 2 wreck?
The best way would be by boat. During the summer months, this bay is very busy with boats crossing. If you decide to swim to the wreck, make sure to take a buoy with you whilst keeping alert. Alternatively, have a look at our boat excursions and get in touch.
Is it safe to enter the wreck?
Yes it is perfectly safe but make sure you go with someone who is experienced. Start with easy, shallow swim-throughs and get used to the wreck whilst slowly building your confidence. The wreck has many openings with lots of light flooding the inside.
Which wind direction is best for this wreck?
Any wind direction is good other than a heavy North-westerly or an Easterly type of wind, from north to south.
Is this wreck suitable for beginners?
This wreck sits at around twenty-three metres, which makes it perfect for beginners as well as advanced freedivers. Whether you want to view the wreck from a line or be more daring and enter the engine room, the Tug 2 suits any level. If you wish to to take a beginner course, have a look at our Molchanovs Wave 1 course.