For scuba divers seeking a unique and historically significant experience, the wreck of the Felipe Xicotencatl C-53 in Cozumel is a must-visit dive site. It is one of the most popular dives in Cozumel.
In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey to the depths of the Caribbean Sea, where you’ll learn about the C53’s fascinating past, discover what makes this shipwreck so special, and find out what you need to know to dive this incredible site.
The History of the Felipe Xicotencatl C-53
The Felipe Xicotencatl C-53, originally named the USS Scuffle, was a naval vessel built for the United States Navy during World War II. It was launched in 1942 and served as a minesweeper during the war.
In 1962, the ship was transferred to the Mexican Navy and renamed the Felipe Xicotencatl, C-53.
The C-53 was purchased for the sole purpose of guarding the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, providing surveillance for illegal arms and drug trafficking. The ship provided 37 years of service to the Mexican Navy and was finally retired in 1999.
Becoming an Artificial Reef
The Cozumel Watersports & Tourism Association, in collaboration with local dive shops and the Parque Marino Arrecifes de Cozumel, developed a plan to sink the C-53 as an artificial reef to create a new dive site.
This idea was inspired by a successful project in Canada, where old boats were repurposed as artificial reefs for diving areas. The intention was to reduce congestion on the nearby reefs.
In June of 2000, the C-53 was intentionally sunk. The chosen location for the wreck was near Chankanaab Park, as this dive site was easily accessible for divers, and its sheltered location protected against strong currents. The ship was placed on a large sand bank to avoid any harm to existing reef structures.
Cozumel Wreck Dive Site
The C-53 shipwreck lies at a depth of around 80 feet and is accessible to open water divers.
More advanced divers have the option to see the ship at deeper levels, and even penetrate the inside of the wreck too.
The wreck itself is quite large, measuring around 200 feet long and 40 feet wide. It sits upright on the sandy bottom, with the top of the wreck rising to within about 60 feet of the surface. The ship is covered in a variety of marine life, including corals, sponges, and schools of fish.
What to Expect When Diving the C53
Diving the C-53 shipwreck is a unique and exciting experience. As you descend down the mooring line, the wreck slowly comes into view. The first thing you’ll notice is the sheer size of the ship, it’s really impressive!
As you explore the wreck, you’ll see a variety of interesting features and artifacts. The ship’s guns are still in place, and you can see the depth charges on the stern. The wheelhouse and bridge are also intact, and you can swim through the various compartments and corridors of the ship.
One of the most interesting things about diving the C-53 is the amount of marine life that has made the wreck its home. Schools of fish swim around the wreck, and you’ll likely see a variety of creatures, including lobsters, crabs, and eels.
There are often larger species such as groupers, snappers, and barracudas hanging around too. You’ll also find sponges, corals, and other invertebrates covering the ship’s hull and deck. Be sure to bring your camera along!
If you are lucky, you may even be able to see the Cozumel submarine go by as you dive!
Diving the C 53 Shipwreck – Cozumel Wreck Dive
At Divepoint, we can plan a dive day at the C53 shipwreck. We usually visit this dive along with another dive site within the Cozumel Marine Park.
Let us know and we can make it a great adventure! Why not even visit as part of your PADI wreck diver specialty course?
Check out our booking page here.
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