Dive the Chief Dragon (Colombo Car Wreck)! (www.DiveSriLanka.com)
A rare dive to a massive car carrier

By Dharshana Jayawardena.

Depth: 20-35 Meters

Like an monstrous dinosaur emerging from the gloom.. the bow

Why its called the Car Wreck - a car chassis on a a deck

20/03/12: One more massive ship to the list of Colombo Wrecks!

For years we knew about the "Car Wreck". It was somewhere off Colombo. Sunk in the 1980's the "Car Wreck" is actually the Panamanian transport cargo ship "Chief Dragon". 112.8 meters long, 22.0 meters wide and with a draft of 7.9m it was sunk on the 18th of March 1983 and later parts blown off by the Sri Lankan Navy to reduce the hazard to ships. It was a wreck frozen in limbo in the confines of the thick naval security zone that enveloped the Colombo Port during the years of War.

Now the war is over and almost three years after; the security zone has shrunk further. A sure sign of peace and a bonus for wreck divers!

So here we are at the car wreck, hitherto dived only by a few pioneer divers during the 1980's as soon as it had sunk.

We anchor on the location and sink into the blue. The visibility is amazing and crystal clear blue waters. Not something one would expect off a busy city - a fact most people are quite surprised by when they dive off Colombo.

As we swim down the anchor line a monstrous shape emerges from the gloom. A snout of a long extinct Spinosaurus comes to the mind. The resemblance then ends there as larger part of the ship takes shape. Indded the name "Chief Dragon" seem beautifully fitting. As we swim towards amidships, its a vast jumble of utter confusion. More like an abandoned city of metal than a ship. This is a result of the Sri Lankan Navy blowing up the upper parts of this massive carrier to eliminate it as a hazard for commercial shipping. The explosion has strewn large pieces of the wreck everywhere. At the stern two massive panels create the most beautiful place of the wreck. Falling symmetrically over the stern from deck to sea bead two caves of sorts are formed providing refuge to countless shoals of fish including a massive grouper which can be occasionally seen.

The ship is large and the top most deck is around 20 Meters. On this level several chassis of cars can be seen; yet hardly recognizable as cars. Only close inspection will reveal the four wheels and the parts of transmissions still intact.

Exploring this wreck in a single dive is impossible. That's a great problem to confront! We don't mind diving this wreck over and over again!

This we rate as one of the best wreck experiences in Colombo to have!

Cars on deck at the Colombo Chief Dragon Stern of the Chief Dragon wreck Colombo

Blown up panels create a massive and beautiful space full of fish

Prolific fish life including large groupers can be sighted at the car wreck

A blown up panels lie around the wreck - a larger area to explore

Unidentified part of the ship - birds eye view from about 15M

< Back to Colombo dive sites

Pictures & writing is the property of DiveSriLanka.com - view our copyright policy