Scuba in Aruba
Part 1

The "Antilla" is one of the Caribbean's largest shipwrecks.

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The Antilla
A Wreck Diver's Delight

Most shipwrecks have an interesting history, but the Antilla sunk in shallow water off Aruba boasts one of the strangest. At the beginning of World War II, this brand-new German freighter was used to supply submarines patrolling the Netherlands Antilles located just off the Venezuelan coast.

Initially Aruba was a declared neutral zone and the Antilla was free to tie up here between missions. Allied subs, try as they might, could never locate the vessel when it was in open water, so it became known as the "ghost ship." No matter--the Germans ended up sinking the ship themselves.

When the Germans invaded Holland , Aruba entered the war on the side of the Allies. The Antilla , anchored where she rests today, was ordered to surrender. For some reason the police agreed to give the captain until the next day to think over their demand. When the authorities returned the next morning, the crew was lined up on the beach, ready to surrender...and the ship was resting on the bottom. The captain had decided to scuttle the ship rather than let it fall in Allied hands.

Divers should find out the name of that captain and erect a monument to him. The 400-foot long " Antilla " (also spelled Antila ) is one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean. It also sits in very shallow water with a maximum depth of only 60 feet, so it's a place you where can spend a lot of tank time.

However, the wreck is so big it's virtually impossible to inspect carefully on a single dive. Better to schedule several trips and sample one section at a time, like a smorgasbord. Visibility generally runs 50-60 feet but at times can be murkier due to surge.

This is a good wreck to see both inside and out. The Antilla is completely intact so it's easy to make penetrations in the large compartments and cargo holds. From top to bottom the wreck is festooned with bright sponges and corals that are ideal for portrait or macro photography. As a night dive, the Antilla is unsurpassed.

I thoroughly enjoy penetrating the gloomy interiors, following ladders that lead nowhere and photographing my buddy framed in hatchways and doorways with lots of open water behind. Because of the shallow depth, the intactness of the ship and the abundant marine growth, the Antilla is an easy photo subject and a good overall dive.

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