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History of Curacao’s Superior Producer Shipwreck

By Robby Myers | Authored On June 14, 2018
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History of Curacao’s Superior Producer Shipwreck

Curacao Shipwreck

Since the Superior Producer is only 450 feet off the coast of Otrobanda, Curacao, it is possible to dive it from shore.

Courtesy of Turtle & Ray Production - Curaçao

The Superior Producer sits less than 500 feet off Curacao. It foundered just outside of the harbor while departing on an ill-fated (and short-lived) supply run to Venezuela. Its sunken cargo may never have reached its intended destination, but in all things dive, the Superior Producer delivers.

History of the Superior Producer

According to the Netherlands Maritime Historical Database Foundation, the MV Superior Producer was built in 1957 and was originally called the Andromeda. The 400-ton cargo ship was constructed by Handel & Scheepsbouw Maatschappij Kramer & Booy N.V. in Kootstertille, Netherlands. It was 165 feet long with a beam of 25 feet and an 8-foot draft.

The ship was originally operated out of Rotterdam, Netherlands, by Muller & Reitsma N.V. In 1962 Rederij L. Remeeus N.V. purchased Andromeda and renamed it the Superior Producer.

Sinking of the Superior Producer

Superior Producer entered Curacao’s harbor through St. Anna Bay on the morning of September 30, 1977, to take on cargo bound for Venezuela. It would be underwater by the end of the day. According to the Netherlands Maritime Historical Database, the ship was loaded with the cargo of two local Hindu traders who were hoping to profit off the upcoming holiday season. The ship was stuffed — from most accounts, well beyond capacity — and Horne lists whiskey, bottles of perfume, clothing and bags as part of its inventory.

The cargo-laden ship’s end began as soon as it cast off. The vessel immediately began to list and its cargo started to shift. The captain ordered some of the ship’s improperly stowed cargo be thrown overboard in an attempt to balance the ship. Horne writes that the crew had left the ship’s port holes open, and that water began to enter the ship, further complicating the situation.

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to right the ship, even employing a Curacao Ports Authority tugboat to try and pull it back up, it was clear that Superior Producer was going down. The harbormaster decided to stop rescue operations and instead focus on moving the ship before it sank in the harbor and created a navigational hazard. Horne writes that the cargo ship was towed about 1,650 feet west of the harbor entrance before it finally succumbed to the sea, sinking at 4:30 p.m. The captain and crew suffered no casualties and were picked up by the Harbor Police after abandoning ship.

Curacao Shipwreck

The roughly 165-foot shipwreck sits intact and upright in just over 100 feet of water.

Courtesy of Turtle & Ray Production - Curaçao

The Aftermath

The Superior Producer’s demise was an orderly affair, at least when compared to the frenzy that followed. As news of the downed ship spread, curious folk flocked to the shoreline to salvage any cargo that washed ashore, and divers took to the water in order to “rescue” the goods still inside the ship.

There are numerous stories of fights breaking out (on shore and underwater) and hasty, untrained divers getting bent during the unofficial salvage. According to the Netherlands Maritime Historical Database, police had their hands full with opportunistic beachcombers and blocked traffic caused by curious onlookers. Within days the ship was picked clean and many locals were busy drinking and dressed in new clothes. The Curacao-based newspaper_ Amigoe_ even reported — though could not confirm — that local fishermen had caught a shark dressed in jeans.

An Uncertain Future

For safety and security reasons divers are not able to access the Superior Producer when cruise ships are docked at Curacao’s mega pier. On February 23, 2017, this seasonal scheduling conflict threatened to become permanent as construction began on a second mega pier. Divers waited anxiously to see whether they’d be allowed to return to the wreck after the construction was completed. Thankfully, when Curacao Ports Authority announced on April 26, 2018 ,that the waterside construction of new pier was finished they also restored divers’ access to the Superior Producer — although the site is still off-limits when ships are docked at the piers.

Curacao Shipwreck

Divers exploring the wreck of the Superior Producer.

Courtesy of Turtle & Ray Production - Curaçao

Scuba Diving the Superior Producer

The roughly 165-foot shipwreck sits intact and upright in just over 100 feet of water. The big, open cargo hold makes for easy penetration and gives the sensation of diving through the skeleton of an enormous marine beast. Divers with proper experience and training can explore the engine room and crew cabins.

Orange cup corals and sponges cover the wreck and fish life is abundant. Blackbar solider fish hide in the shadows while angelfish and sergeant majors patrol the deck. Barracuda are common, but not as common as another large silvery fish — tarpon. Tarpon on this site are so large that over-excited divers often mistake them for sharks. During your ascent you can spend some time at an adjacent coral reef where you will find damselfish, wrasse and file fish.

It is easiest to dive the wreck from a boat, but since it is only 450 feet off the coast of Otrobanda, Curacao, it is possible to dive it from shore. Mild currents are common on the site.

Depth: The wreck starts at about 70 feet and bottoms out in the sand at 106.

Visibility: Viz averages about 100 feet.

Temperature: Water temps are usually between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Need to Know: The wreck is situated right next to Curacao’s mega piers, and commercial vessels are common in the area. Due to its proximity to the mega pier, the site is inaccessible when cruise ships are docked. Cruise season typically runs October through May, so avoid that timeframe if you want to dive the Superior Producer — it’s always best to check with a local dive operator before you go.

Dive Operators: Ocean Encounters