The Superior Producer is one of Curaçao’s most popular dive sites, and one of the Caribbean’s top wrecks. Dive in for a look at the history of this iconic shipwreck, and how it came to meet its untimely end.
The MV Superior Producer started life as the MV Andromeda (IMO nr. 5345431). It was built in 1957 as coastal cargo ship by Handel & Scheepsbouw Maatschappij Kramer and Booy NV, from Kootstertille, Netherlands. Measuring 50.22m (165ft) in length and 7.79m (25½ft) in width, with a maximum draught of 2.58m (8½ft), this 400-ton freighter was delivered on 8 November 1957 to Muller and Reitsma NV, from Rotterdam, Netherlands. On 22 February, 1962, she was sold to Rederij L Remeeus NV, from Rotterdam, Netherlands when she officially became known as the MV Superior Producer.
The ship had a rather mundane existence, picking up and dropping off cargo all along the Dutch coastline. The vessel changed hands several times over the years, until 13 November 1970, when the MV Superior Producer was sold to Pan-Ven Line SA, and re-flagged to her new home port in Panama with the sole task of moving cargo between Willemstad (Curaçao) and Pampatar (Venezeula), a city on Isla Margarita.
On 30 September 1977, the MV Superior Producer arrived early in the morning and docked on the inside of Curaçao Harbour (St. Annabaai) just past Queen Emma floating bridge. It was loaded with a Christmas cargo consisting of whisky, bottles of perfume, clothing and bags, destined for two local Curaçao merchants looking to profit from the upcoming holiday season.
At 13:30, on fateful Thursday afternoon, the crew of nine men of Venezuelan and Colombian nationality, cast off the lines. The ship Immediately began to heel dangerously, at which point the captain ordered a portion of the cargo, not properly stowed, to be thrown overboard. This did not help, and the situation was further complicated because the crew neglected to close the portholes, and the Producer began taking on water. Even the efforts of the Curaçao Port Authority tugboat to pull the boat upright again had no effect.
After several unsuccessful attempts, the harbourmaster, fearing for safety of the crew and ultimately for the harbour itself, decided to cease all rescue efforts. The tugboat dragged the MV Superior Producer about 500m (1,640ft) west outside the harbour entrance. At 16:30, three hours after cast-off, the MV Superior Producer disappeared below the waves and into the turquoise depths, about 150m (500ft) from shore. During this same period, the captain and crew safely abandoned the ship and were picked up by a boat from the harbour police.
Word of the sinking spread across Curaçao like wildfire! Scuba divers, free-divers and snorkelers alike arrived on the shoreline from all over the island to scavenge the wreck for all its cargo – it was described as ‘pure chaos’ at the time – and within a few days, there was nothing left. Even the neglected portholes were gone.
Today, she sits quietly upright on her keel, between Double Reef and the entrance to St. Annabaai, with her bow facing west in roughly 30m (100ft) of water and about 150m (500ft) from the shoreline just in front of the new Curaçao Mega-piers. As an advanced shore or boat dive, the easiest approach is from the stern due to the possibility of the prevailing currents.
As you descend the fringing reef, an eerie dark shadow starts to appear. At first, you only see the stern, but then the entirety of this magnificent 50m (165ft) mass with it superstructure rising to within 21m (72ft) of the surface reveals itself, covered in a vast kaleidoscope of color. Now with roughly a half of a century of growth, the MV Superior Producer is an amazing artificial reef site home to numerous colonies and different species of corals, sponges, gorgonians and sea whips. Because of this, it is a natural attraction for schools of predatory fish such as Tarpons, Barracudas, Snappers and Jacks.
This is also a heaven for macro photographers and anyone who likes to get a close look at smaller stuff too. Caribbean spiny lobsters, parrotfish, French and Queen angelfish, turtles, scorpionfish and even morays. Look even closer for banded coral shrimp, nudibranchs, flamingo-tongue shells and possibly even frogfish. Basket stars, octopus and large spider crabs catch the eye while night diving this beautiful shipwreck too.
With its wide-open cargo holds and accessible wheel house, the MV Superior Producer has become renowned as one of the Top Shipwrecks in the World rivaled only by the likes of the SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea and the WWII wrecks in Palau.