The construction of the flagship “Vis” started in 1953 at the shipyard “Uljanik” in Pula and she was launched in 1956. She was designed and used as commanding ship of the Yugoslav Navy until the early nineties of the twentieth century. The ship was 58 m long and 8.5 m wide, weighing a total of 662 tons, with 3 m draught. She was a state-of-the-art ship at that time and one of the five ships built for “Jadrolinija”.
The hull was made of steel, while the decks were made of aluminium covered with 6 cm teak wood. The ship was powered by two 1,000 HP engines that allowed the ship to achieve a maximum speed of 17 knots. The ship had three auxiliary engines with generators that supplied electrical power.
She was originally intended to serve as a military passenger ship. The ship’s interior featured two salons and 32 cabins with a total of 52 berths, and all the decks were covered with 6 cm thick and well preserved highest quality teak wood. She had luxury rooms for 35 officers and was armed with anti-aircraft guns.
The flagship “Vis” often took over the role of the navy commander’s ship from the main Tito’s ship “Galeb”, whenever the main Tito’s ship was on one of her voyages around the world or under repair.
“Vis” was retired from active operation in 2002 and after the breakup of the ex Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia she was laid up in the Montenegrin harbour of Tivat.
At the beginning of 2000, the ship was bought by a private individual who had done his military service in the Yugoslav People’s Army on board of “Vis”. She was bought with the intention of turning her into a luxury cruise ship. Due to the lack of funds, the plan fell through. The next idea was to moor “Vis” in the Port of Pula and turn her into a bar. This plan wasn’t viable either, because only ships in navigable condition may be moored in the Port of Pula. As “Vis” didn’t have any engine, meaning that she wasn’t in working condition, she could not get a mooring. For all the above reasons the ship was moored in different places for decades and the expenses were constantly increasing. Then the owner decided to get to grips with the bureaucracy and to legally scuttle the ship. The struggle lasted for four years and then he finally got a thumbs-up.
For days before the planned scuttling, experts were studying where to place the explosives and how much explosive to use in order for the ship to sink in an upright position. To ensure safe navigation, the mast had to be cut in two and indeed it remained in this condition even after the scuttling.
On 22 May 2016 in the morning hours, “Vis”, towed by two tug boats, departs from the military base “Muzil” where it was last moored up on her last voyage to the predetermined scuttling site in front of the cape Kamenjak. 30 kg of explosives were arranged throughout the ship in 3 positions; in the centre towards the bow, in the engine room, and in the stern. Upon arrival at the site, the ship was tied to blocks and the scuttling operation began. From the upper deck, explosive experts activated the mines following the pattern from bow to stern. Due to a poor estimate of the steel plate thickness, as the plates were thicker than estimated, the ship began to sink very rapidly and in only 4 minutes she was at the bottom of the sea at a depth of 35 m.
There are two buoys at the site. One buoy is tied to the to the stern bollard and the other one to the bow bollard, so divers can choose on which side to begin the dive. If the visibility is good, you can spot the ship from a depth of approximately 7 metres.
Starting from the bow, you descend to a deck at a depth of 25 m, next to the anchor windlass. Approximately 10 metres further you arrive to the bridge consisting of three decks. The first i.e. the upper deck is at a depth of 18–20 m and this is where the conning tower and the radar will be found. You can also see the holes through which the engine air used to flow and which have been left open. A qualified and experienced scuba diver can dive through them into the engine room where the two propulsion engines will be found at a depth of 32 m. You can exit following the same path or, alternatively, through the explosion holes which can be found on the left and the right side of the ship’s hull.
On the second deck, at a depth of 20-23 m, you will reach Josip Broz Tito’s chambers comprising a salon, a bedroom and a terrace.
On the third deck, at a depth of 23-25 m, looking from the bow to the stern, you will see the crew rooms, the kitchen, the sauna and the laundry, and along the entire left side there is the restaurant dining room stretching all the way to the engine section. In the stern there are the captain’s and officers’ cabins.
The ship is for the most part cleaned up and suitable for penetration on presentation of certificates proving that you have passed all the required exams.
Boat trip to the site: 20 minutes