Kaiser Franz Josef
To the adventure-seeker sunken ships are a challenge. The Kaiser Franz Joseph rests off Prevlaka, on its port side. This famous cruiser sailed for only 27 years. The Romans would say: Sic transit gloria mundi – Thus passes the glory of the world. Launched in 1890, it sailed the North and Baltic Seas, docked off Crete, in Lisbon and Asia. The wreck reveals the construction of this once well-armed maritime giant. Its cannons were removed in the last century. After the capitulation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was given to the French and anchored at Žanjica Bay. It foundered and sank one stormy night, on 17 October 1919, armed with explosives that still lie near the anchor at the ship’s bow. Almost 90 years have passed, yet the Kaiser Franz Joseph is still an alluring beauty.
Diving tipsThe site, which lies on the sheltered side of Pt. Oštro, is not easy to find. Descent is along the anchoring line and if visibility is good, the wreck is detectable at 15 m. The best way to explore the wreck is by starting from its mid-section, between the two masts. Adorning its stern is the name of a great ruler, Kaiser Franz Joseph. Divers can explore the ship’s interior and then the bow where explosives still lie near its anchor.
Marine lifeAlthough in a state of decay, the ship is surrounded by fish; sulphur sponges and scorpionfish inhabit the algae. The second mast is a habitat for yellow sulphur sponges. Their colour reminds us of the Habsburg coat of arms that vanished long before the demise of this ship. And the most beautiful sight of all - cardinalfish creating a contrast to the grey vessel.