A ship which sank near the port town of Vasco in South Goa district more than half a century ago is drawing diving enthusiasts from across the country.
The SS Rita carrying rail tracks from Gujarat to Goa met its watery grave near the Grand Island sometime in the 1960s. It is believed that the ship capsized after running into the rocks, but no records of the incident are available.
The wreckage lies at the bottom of the Zuari river.
“There is a lot of interest among tourists in seeing the shipwreck. It is one of the seven diving sites near the island,” said Skandan Warrier, a former Navy man who runs a scuba diving training institute.
Lying underwater at the depth of seven to 13-14 metres, the remains of the ship have turned into an artificial reef, he said.
“There are hardly any other shipwrecks that can be explored the way you can explore SS Rita,” he said. “It has also become a shelter for fish,” Warrior added.
The divers who visit the wreck claim that it’s an amazing site, he said.
One can see the ship’s winches, bow, davit (a crane used for lowering boats), portholes and a ladder, more or less intact. The area around the Grand Island has seven diving sites. Local fisherman Anthony Fernandes said interest in scuba diving has been increasing among Indian tourists.
“After the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen more and more domestic tourists giving diving a try,” he said.
There are two more ships which are known to have sunk in the same area, Warrior said.
But they are stuck in deeper parts of the seabed and not so easily reachable.
“Both the wrecks are located 18 to 20 metres below the water, so it becomes difficult for novice divers to reach there,” he said.