The Zenobia, a Swedish built 172-meter-long roll-on roll-off ferry, set off on her Maiden journey on May 4th1980, bound for Syria, carrying 104 lorries all loaded with cargo. She entered the Mediterranean on May 22nd sailing to Crete. After 2 days moored there, she departed for Port Piraeus, Athens; when the captain noticed problems with the steering and the vessel listing to its port side. Checks in Athens revealed that too much water being pumped into the ballast tanks was causing the list and after 4 days of pumping the problem was believed to have been solved.
Onward to Syria, the next stop for the Zenobia was Larnaca where she arrived, on June 3rd, 1980, again listing to her port side. Port based engineers discovered that the computerised pump system for the ballast was incorrectly adding water into the port tanks and the listing was becoming progressively worse. Unbelievably, on the 4th of June with no solution to the listing found, the Zenobia was towed out of port as a pre-caution and left at anchor 1500 metres offshore and the crew and passengers were removed by lifeboat. The following day the captain dismissed the engineering crew as fixing the list became an overwhelming problem and the Zenobia was effectively abandoned.
She sank at 2.30am on June 7th, 1980, now lying on her port side, 42 meters down, in Larnaca bay; with most of its estimated 200 million-pounds worth of lorries and cargo. According to local legend the insurance money for the Zenobia was never collected by its owners, any mention of Syrian arms smuggling was quickly dismissed at the time of sinking and no formal investigation has ever been published. There is vast suspicion surrounding the exact cause and circumstances of the sinking of the Zenobia; none of which have ever been proved and it seems never will be.
Ms Zenobia Wreck – 34’53.5″ N, 33’39.1″ E, Cyprus