The Wreck of the Peñón

Wreck diving is fascinating in many ways: there’s the diving aspect, big underwater shapes are interesting to photograph, and last but not least the story behind a wreck is captivating to discover.

The tugboat El Peñón served for 49 years in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife starting in the Fifties, when the port with its refinery was expanding after Spain’s prolonged isolated trade policy after the Second World War. In 2006 the tug was sunk in the bay of Tabaiba and sits in 32 metres depth. The Spanish name means “the rock” – ominously anticipating its second life as an artificial reef.

The 25 metre-long tugboat had already sunken before. In 1971, when it was operating under the name Cepsa Segundo and towing the cruise ship Canberra to the harbour with its 1’100 PS engine, it submerged. The crew was saved.

The Canberra also has an interesting history: the cruise ship appeared in the James Bond movie “Diamonds are Forever”, and was later requisitioned in the Falklands War making her even more popular among British guests.

After the accident, the tugboat El Peñón was overhauled in the shipyard in Sevilla (Astilleros de Sevilla, where it had been built in 1958 and later sold under the name Ursus IV). After serving in the bay of Algeciras, the Peñón returned to Tenerife in 1975.

The wreck is easy to access from the shore, and using an additional deco bottle for deco increases the time to explore the wreck. Researching the story behind a sunken boat makes wreck diving so attractive to me.

Wreck Diving – The wreck of the tugboat El Peñon sits on the ground in 32 metres depth in Tabaiba, Tenerife.
The wreck of the tugboat El Peñon sits on the ground in 32 metres depth in Tabaiba, Tenerife.
The wreck of the tugboat El Peñon sits on the ground in 32 metres depth in Tabaiba, Tenerife.
Exploring the wreck of the tugboat El Peñon.
The wreck of the tugboat El Peñon sits on the ground in 32 metres depth in Tabaiba, Tenerife.
Entering the bridge: at the helm of the tugboat El Peñon.
The wreck of the tugboat El Peñon sits on the ground in 32 metres depth in Tabaiba, Tenerife.
Sebastian getting ready to dive using a Nitrox pony bottle for decompression.
The wreck of the tugboat El Peñon sits on the ground in 32 metres depth in Tabaiba, Tenerife.
The tugboat El Peñon seen from the stern.