HMS Olympus

The dive

HMS Olympus, the World War II Royal Navy Submarine, lies seven miles off the port of Valetta. She was first detected in 2011 using high-frequency sonar, and lies 115m below sea level. An ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) inspected and photographed the site, and revealed that the ship was in extraordinary condition.

Today HMS Olympus sits upright on the seabed, with serious signs of damage on her starboard side. However the gun is still intact, pointing upwards after failing to fire the shell that could have signalled her distress. The hatches are also open, indicating the location where the crew escaped as the submarine started gaining water. At her base is a memorial plaque placed by the diving team to honour the fallen men.

Wreck history

HMS Olympus was an Odin Class submarine. Primarily designed for long distance patrolling. During Word War II she was sent to the Mediterranean as part of the “magic carpet service” to transport cargo including medicine, fuel and Special Forces to Malta. By 1942 this task was becoming increasingly dangerous as Axis forces deployed more than 50,000 naval mines around Malta.

HMS Olympus was charged with picking up survivors from other damaged submarines.  She meant to take them back home to England. She departed Valetta on 08 May 1942, but struck a mine shortly after leaving the port. The brave crew attempted to send out distress signals and even fired the deck gun, but the shell got jammed and no help came. HMS Olympus sunk to her watery grave, and the soldiers attempted a gruelling seven-mile swim back to Valetta. Out of the 98 men on board, just nine survived.