SS Cape Matapan


The Cape Matapan was a steam powered fishing boat of the Irvin and Johnson fleet, built in 1925, which was slowly returning to Cape Town harbour in heavy fog in 1960 when it was accidentally rammed by another vessel leaving the harbour. The Matapan sank rapidly, but all the crew were rescued by the other vessel, which made it back to the harbour. The position of the wreck was not accurately known due to the conditions at the time of the sinking, but was reported to be about 30 minutes at low speed from the breakwater.

A group of divers from False Bay Underwater Club and Blue Flash diving charters made a search in the estimated area in late October 2010. The initial search on parallel compass courses was unsuccessful, bur a trial run using a towed sled on an arc around the estimated position hit paydirt, and the diver cut loose and investigated some wreckage seen on the bottom. This included a section of bow structure, a hawse pipe, and several plates. A second dive was done a couple of weeks later to begin a survey of the site, and the boiler was found. So far the wreckage has not been positively identified, though many artifacts correspond with the only known photograph of the vessel. The site has been named the Cape Matapan until evidence indicates that it is a different wreck. It is apparent that salvage work was done on this wreck in the past, as the hub of the propeller has had the blades removed, possibly by blasting.

The surrounding reef has a reasonably representative variety of the local reef life.

These areas are situated along the South African Coast and are accessible to the public and are known dive locations to the locals from in and around the area, please respect their local fauna and flora, remember limit your catch and don’t catch your limit.