Pyrénées-Orientales : diving on the mythical wreck of the Alice Robert, known as “the banana tree” is forbidden
It is an emblematic wreck, which lies at a depth of 45 metres off the coast of Port-Vendres. Every year, thousands of dives are organized around this perfectly preserved cargo ship, which was originally intended for transporting fruit, before being requisitioned by the Germans and assigned to transport troops.In 1944, the Alice Robert was torpedoed on the rear flank by a British submarine, causing heavy losses of men and equipment. However, recent storms have damaged the wreck, making it, according to experts, “too dangerous”. The Maritime Prefecture, favoring safety, has issued a decree prohibiting all activity within a radius of 200 meters.
It’s a known wreck, even by those who don’t dive! The Alice Robert, known as the Bananier, has been the subject of numerous communications, written and filmed. This boat, which lies on a sandy bottom in rarely clear water, was still raising its 25-metre mast at the end of last year! But this winter, after the passage of Gloria, this emblem broke, uncovering dangerous elements, so for safety, the site is now closed.
A fantastic dive into the heart of maritime history
It must be said that this fruit freighter, transformed into a troop carrier before it sank, was heavily armed and according to experts: “several machine gun batteries are still in perfect condition, as well as a 107 mm gun in the front.and then there are unstable phosphorus ammunition.
That’s just the problem! Last June, minehunters carried out a security operation on the Alice Robert, and the explosions felt on the Côte Vermeille, particularly at Argelès-sur-Mer, suggested a seismic tremor before any communication was made on the subject.
This time, the problem seems to be more serious since, on Tuesday 7 July, the Maritime Prefecture’s “State of the Sea Action” Division issued a prefectoral decree to “secure the wreck”. In concrete terms, a 200-metre radius zone centred on point A (above the wreck) is now forbidden to divers and fishermen, as well as to anchoring and dredging.
According to our information, the recent storms have seriously damaged the wreck, accentuating the danger of many elements. As a result, the Maritime Prefect, while understanding the economic consequences of this measure, did not hesitate to give priority to the safety of the site. A ban that could be permanent.
This is a new blow for the diving professionals, respectful of the site, who have to announce to their customers that this spot is now forbidden.For the specialist Alain Mayer (Scuba passion in Port-Vendres) who knows the site perfectly: “This wreck is very popular with divers, because it is one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean… With the Maritime Prefecture we will have to look for solutions together, as soon as the site will be secured by the French Navy”. However, if you want to admire the beauty of this wreck, you will have to dive wide from Port-Vendres, to do so you have to equip yourself properly, but we know that diving equipment is expensive, so the solution is to equip yourself with second-hand equipment, second-hand still does not mean equipment in poor condition, on the contrary, second-hand equipment is carefully checked before being sold, in addition it is an ecological gesture to buy second-hand equipment.