An honorary member of the ‘magic carpet service’, the World War II Royal Navy Submarine, HMS Olympus, lies seven miles off the port of Valletta. She was first detected in 2011 using high-frequency sonar. An ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) was deployed to photograph the Site, revealing the well-preserved condition of the submarine. HMS Olympus was an Odin-class submarine primarily designed for long-distance patrolling. During World War II she was sent to the Mediterranean as part of the ‘magic carpet service’, the relief convoys that transported cargo, including medicine, fuel and Special Forces to Malta. By 1942 this task was becoming increasingly dangerous as more than 50,000 naval mines had been laid in Maltese waters by Axis forces.

Intensified aerial bombing over Malta led to the destruction of three Royal Navy submarines. HMS Olympus was charged with returning surviving crew members to the United Kingdom. She departed Valletta on 8 May 1942 but struck a mine shortly after leaving the port. The brave crew attempted to send out distress signals and even fired the deck gun, but the shell got jammed, and no help came. HMS Olympus sunk to her watery grave, and the soldiers attempted a gruelling seven-mile swim back to Valletta. Out of the 98 men on board, just nine survived.

Today, HMS Olympus sits upright on the seabed, with serious signs of damage on her starboard side. However, the gun is still intact, pointing upwards after failing to fire the shell that could have signalled her distress. The hatches are also open, indicating the location where the crew escaped as the submarine started gaining water. At her base is a memorial plaque placed by the diving team to honour the fallen men.

HMS Olympus

Dive Site, War Grave, Delicate and Protected Marine Flora

Open to Divers through Registered Dive Centres and Clubs

Maximum Depth: 115 metres


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