X131 Lighter Carolita Barge

Navigation:
At the start of Lazzaretto creek, Manoel Island. Follow the drop off to the right and then at an approx depth of 10 metres you will find the wreck.

Access: Shore Dive

Depth: 8-25 metres

Visibility: 3-10 metres

Sea Bed: Rock/Sand/Silt

Interests: Wreck + Low Visibility Dive

Certification Required: BSAC Ocean Diver, PADI Open Water or equivalent.

Dangers: Passing ferries and boats

Wreck Statistics:
The X 131 is one of the 200 Lighters constructed for the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. Designed by Walter Pollocks & Son of Faversham in Kent. The X 131 took action in the Dardanelles Campaign but by 1921, the ship was in Malta and was converted into a Water Carrier. The wreck had different names, Coralita, Coral, Carolita and was at one point even mistaken for the wreck of an English Submarine. On the night of 21st April 1942 it received a torpedo hit in her stern and sank immediately.

Wreck History: 
In February 1915, at about the same time that the smaller Lighters of the Y Class were being considered, D.N.C. received instructions to prepare also a design for a larger type of lighter or barge, to be self-propelled, suitable for transporting troops, horses, field guns and landing them on a shelving beach. The matter was one of extreme urgency and the design was completed within four days from the receipt of instructions.

The form decided upon was of angular bilge section (pontoon shape) amidships, tapering to a ship shape form at the ends, with a spoon shaped bow to better enable the vessels to take the beach. The Hull was constructed of mild steel, but in order to meet the limits of the plant at some of the smaller yards certain small departures were permitted in order to facilitate the speedy construction of the vessels. The Vessels were designated X Lighters and numbered from X1 to X200.

The propelling machinery was placed right aft, consisted of heavy oil engines, chiefly of the Bolinder Hot Bulb Type, but many other types were fitted. Some of the X Lighters were propelled by twin screws but the greater number by single screws. It was intended that the vessels should be towed, three in number together in single line, to within easy reach of their operating base, so that speed by virtue of their own propelling machinery was not a primary consideration. The machinery equipment was also largely governed by the types of engines obtainable in the country at short notice and resulted in variations of horse-power and speeds from 40 to 90 horse-powers and from 5 to 7 knots, according to the types fitted.

Appeal to save sunk Gallipoli vessel from development (Saturday 4th December 2004 ~ Extract from Times of Malta Article by Steve Mallia)

British diving instructor Dave Mallard capped off a revealing piece of research when he renamed the wreck formerly known as the Carolita, which lies 20 metres under the sea off Manoel Island.
Together with a group of experienced local divers, Mr Mallard set off with a bottle of champagne in hand to christen the X-131 Water lighter which was used in the Gallipoli landings in 1915. The X131 Water lighter was one of 200 designed by Walter Pollock and Son of Faversham in Kent for the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) campaign in 1915, one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.
It stayed on in Malta as a water carrier until it was bombed in World War II while berthed in Grand Harbour and then scuttled in its current location.

For years, the wreck was thought to be an ordinary barge until Mr Mallard, an archaeological diver from the Isle of Wight, carried out an underwater survey and confirmed the vessel's historical significance. He alerted local diving instructor Tonio Anastasi and others who in turn informed the local authorities. Mr Mallard sounded an appeal for the 30-metre-long wreck to be protected from the development of yachting facilities in the area as part of the Manoel Island project.

"The wreck has been on the charts for 40 to 50 years. Any development should have taken that into account. Now it has even more meaning since troops died on it in Gallipoli (Turkey). It is a monument to the Anzac troops and has more right to be on this site than any development. The X-131 Water lighter remains in almost perfect condition even though it is 100 years old and Mr Mallard believes it can remain like that for at least another century if steps are taken to protect it. The only other known surviving example is moored on the River Thames. Mr Anastasi said that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage had been informed together with the Malta Tourism Authority. The superintendence said it would be looking into the wreck and the general area.

There are 200 years of history there as we often come across old bottles and clay pipes. Documentary-maker Emi Farrugia, who was also on the dive, warned that the wreck could be lost forever unless steps were taken to protect it from development.

Martin Vella, from the Malta Marine Foundation, said: This is a red-letter day for Malta. The wreck has gone from Cinderella and turned into a princess. Our aim is to protect these wrecks".