The Mikhail Lermontov - 170 metres, 20,000 tonne Soviet cruiseliner. Built in East Germany in 1972, sunk in Port Gore in the Malborough Sounds on 16 February 1986. The sinking poses one of the great unanswered questions of New Zealand maritime history.
What possessed the local pilot to swing the big liner into the narrow passage between Cape Jackson and the lighthouse is still a mystery. His spur of the moment decision to navigate the Lermontov into a channel described on charts as foul ground doomed the ship. Rocks ripped open her hull and five hours later she sank. All but one of the 740 passengers and crew escaped. Today the $45 million cruiseliner lies on its side totally intact in 36 metres of water.
This is a unique diving opportunity. Whether you see the Mikail Lermontov in superb or poor visibility, the overriding impression that imprints on your brain is one of colossal size.
Depth 12-36 metres.
Water temperature 10-18 degrees C.
Visibility 3-30 metres.