began life as the 7,103 GRT refrigerated cargo ship Nopal Trader
built at KIELER Howaldtswerke AG (Yard No. 1046), Kiel, Germany for the Northern Pan-America Line, Norway (NOPAL Line). Launched 11 September 1956. She was 137.5 meters in length, 18 meters in beam, with propulsion provided by a diesel engine and single shaft for a top speed of 16 knots.
In the service of the NOPAL Line, the Nopal Trader sailed between New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Houston, Texas, USA; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santos, Brazil; Montevideo, Uraguay; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In 1978 the ship was sold and renamed the Krohn Trader. Then, in 1978, she was sold twice and renamed first, the Aghios Lefteris, and then the Crest Lion. Finally, in 1980, she was sold yet again and renamed the Lara.
In November 1982, the Lara was southbound through the Straits of Tiran and ran hard aground on the northern side of Jackson Reef at postion 28° 00′ 43″ N / 34° 28′ 26″ E where she still remains today. It has been long suspected that the ship was intentionally grounded as part of an insurance scam, however, this has never been proven. The ship was declared a constructive total loss and remained aground on the reef ever since. There are rumours that someone remained onboard the ship for the next 2 years leading to even more rumours of drug smuggling.
In the mid-1990’s there were some salvage efforts conducted which resulted in much of the external hull plating being removed, and much of the wreck being cut off and allowed to drop into deep water. As a result, what now lies atop Jackson Reef is a skeleton of the former ship.
What is left of the wreck today lies both above, and below the water. The skeleton of the ship still sits atop the reef itself. However, starting at around 40 meters, a debris field leads downwards towards some large sections of the ship. The mast lies at 48 meters followed by a section of the ship which probably contained workshops, the boat deck, or other miscellaneous spaces lying a bit deeper. The interior bulkheads have been removed which make for open areas to swim through. Below this lies the stern section, complete with the rudder still hard over, and a 7-bladed propeller. The superstructure of the ship had also been cut off and dumped into deeper water and landed right on top of the stern section. Throughout, the dive site is littered with various pieces of piping, ladders, and other assorted pieces of steel from the ship making for a somewhat confusing, yet interesting dive.
The Lara went aground in 1981 not November 1982. I was there and helped evacuate the crew.
Wow, that’s some great information Howard. Do you have any other insights on the sinking or the evacuation? We would love to hear more..