September 30th will not only mark the 42nd Anniversary since the sinking of Curaçao’s iconic shipwreck, the MV Superior Producer, but it will also signal the return of The Annual Curaçao International Dive Festival after nearly a 10-year hiatus!
The MV Superior Producer was built in 1957 as a coastal cargo ship and started its life as the MV Andromeda (IMO nr. 5345431). Measuring 50.22m (165ft) in length and 7.79m (25½ft) in width with a total maximum draught of 2.58m (8½ft), this 400-ton freighter was delivered on November 8th, 1957 to Muller & Reitsma N.V., from Rotterdam, Netherlands. On February 22, 1962, she was sold to Rederij L. Remeeus N.V., from Rotterdam, Netherlands and this is where she officially became known as the MV Superior Producer.
It lived a rather mundane existence of picking up and dropping off cargo all along the Dutch coastline while changing several owners over time from the original delivery date up until November 13, 1970. At this point, 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 in-between Willemstad (Curaçao) and Pampatar (Venezeula), a city on Isla Margarita.
On September 30th, 1977, the MV Superior Producer arrived early in the morning and docked on the inside of the Curaçao Harbor (St. Annabaai) just past Queen Emma floating bridge. It was loaded with a Christmas cargo consisting of whiskey, bottles of perfume, clothing and bags for two local Curaçao Merchants looking to profit from the upcoming holiday season.
At 13:30, on this unknowingly fateful Thursday afternoon, the crew of nine men in total of Venezuelan and Colombian nationality cast off the lines. Immediately the ship started to heel dangerously. The Captain ordered a portion of the cargo not properly stowed away to be put overboard. This did not help. It was further complicated because the crew neglected to close the port holes, therefore the ship started taking on water. Even the efforts of the Curaçao Port Authority tugboat to pull the boat right again had no effect.
After several unsuccessful attempts, the Harbormaster, fearing for safety of the Crew and ultimately for the Harbor itself, decided to cease all rescue efforts. The tugboat dragged the MV Superior Producer about 500 meters (1,640ft) west outside the harbor entrance. At 16:30, three hours after cast-off, the MV Superior Producer disappeared below the waves and into the turquoise depths about 150 meters (500ft) from shore. During this same period, the Captain and Crew safely abandoned the ship where they were picked up by a boat from the Harbor Police.
Word spread across Curaçao of the sinking, like a 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 port holes were gone.
Today, she sits quietly upright on her keel with her bow facing west in roughly 30m (100ft) of water & about 150m (500ft) from the shoreline just west of the Curaçao Mega-pier. 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 its superstructure rising to within 21m (72ft) of the surface reveals itself, covered in a vast kaleidoscope of color. Now with roughly 30 years of growth, the MV Superior Producer is an amazing artificial reef site home to numerous colonies of different species 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 wheelhouse, 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. In fact, this incredible shipwreck has been voted one of the top 5 dive sites in the Caribbean two years in a row by USA Today as well as being recognized by Forbes, Scuba Diving Magazine and Dive Magazine UK to name a few!
It’s a great wreck and you are absolutely 100% right, and you really need to dive it! September 30th will also mark the return of the Annual Curaçao International Dive Festival?!
This year’s festival is not only significant because of the date but it is also designed to bring awareness to Curaçao as world class scuba diving and vacationing destination. It will highlight Curaçao’s unique cultural heritage, the food, the music, and really get people involved in what’s happening here on island, and below the surface, to underline the importance of supporting key on island sustainable tourism and ocean conservation initiatives.
We invite you to join us and, to DIVE IN, to EXPERIENCE CURAÇAO and to truly, #feelitforyourself! Discover for yourself the WHY sustainable tourism is important for our island and the WHAT we are doing about it to ultimately protect the reefs in order to sustain them for future generations.
Photo's and Video produced and edited for Dive Curacao by Turtle and Ray Productions HD.