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Organisation Information

Boat Diving


near Marsaskala, Malta

SS Polynesian

Photo credit: D. Gration & University of Malta 

SS Polynesian was built in 1890 by Messageries Maritimes in La Ciotat in France. She was a Risbec class ocean liner, one of four sister ships, measuring 152.5 m in length with a beam of 15 m. Polynesian was a 3-masted barque made of steel, with a steam engine, double funnel, and a four-bladed propeller.

SS Polynesian operated first on France-Australia route through Suez Canal, and later Far East to French colony destinations, and then again towards Australia and New Caledonia, before being dispatched back to Europe. At the beginning of World War I, she was requisitioned by the French authorities and armed as a troop transport.

Polynesian's final voyage, only three months before the end of the war, was from Bizerte in Tunisia to Salonika (Thessaloniki) Greece, transporting Serbian troops, cadets and personnel of the Royal Serbian Army. On 10th August 1918, the French steamer was torpedoed by German submarine SM UC-22, only few kilometers off Malta. She was hit on the port side near the engine room and sank within half an hour. Most of the cadets survived the sinking, but eleven crew members and six passengers died. The survivors were taken to Malta and recuperated at Cottonera Hospital.

She is lying about 3 km east of Marsaskala on a 45 degree angle on her port side at a depth of 45 m (upmost structures) to 65 m (seabed).


  • War Grave

This is one of the the wrecks managed by the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit (UCHU) within Heritage Malta. For information regarding other wrecks managed by Heritage Malta, click here.

Contact Information

  • Contact: Heritage Malta - Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit
  • Phone: +356 79004141

General Information

  • Maximum Depth in Metres: 65
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