Debbie II, true to her name

She’s the second ship having been deliberately sunk in Aruba to become an artificial reef and a dive object. Since 1991 her final resting place is in front of the High-rise hotels (Palm Beach) near the wreck of the Star Gerren. This is her story:

Coralshell:

(Debbie II, source: Stichting Maritiem-Historische Databank, www.marhisdata.nl)

(Debbie II, source: Stichting Maritiem-Historische Databank, http://www.marhisdata.nl)

The 207 tons oil tanker is launched on 15 June 1961 by shipbuilder J. Bolson & Son at Hamworthy (United Kingdom) and completed in July 1961. She measures 40 mtrs/120 ft in length and is named Coralshell. Her first owner is Shell Co. Of Bahamas Ltd. Nassau and she sails under British flag until 1972. In 1972 Coralshell is sold to Shell N.A. Willemstad (Dutch Antilles) and renamed Debbie II (call sign: PJSS) sailing under the flag of the Dutch Antilles. Debbie II is transporting oil and gasoline from Curacao to the nearby island of Bonaire two or three times a week.

Debbie, the granddaughter:

Bonaire had previously (since 1962) been supplied with oil and gasoline by the 100 tons tanker Debbie owned by Bonaire Shipping Company. This 24 mtrs/82 ft long tanker was built in Vlaardingen (The Netherlands) and originally owned by Shell Maracaibo. She was renamed “Debbie” after the granddaughter of the Shell trade representative on Bonaire mr. L.D. Gerharts. 

Debbie at Sunsetbeach Bonaire (picture: courtesy of Boi Antoin)

Debbie at Sunsetbeach Bonaire (picture: courtesy of Boi Antoin)

Increasing demands:

By 1981 it becomes clear that Debbie II can no longer meet the ever increasing need for fuel of Bonaire. The number of cars on the island rises and Bonaire is frequented by bigger airplanes. Any disruption in the fuel supply is felt immediately on the island and leaves Bonairean motorists without gasoline for several days. In November 1981 Debbie II is replaced by the 818 tons tanker Macvie.

Wind breaker:

After that it gets quiet around Debbie II until March 1983. Debbie II is the first ship to enter the newly built dry dock of the Company Aruba Shiplift NV at Barcadera Harbor in Aruba. She will be welded shut and is meant to serve as a water and wind breaker for the dock. Again it gets quiet around her until 1991.

True to her name:

DebbieII march 91 - 1   DebbieII march 91 - 2    Debbie II march 91 - 3

(March 1991, scuttling of Debbie II. Source: Amigoe 26 March 1991)

In March 1991 Debbie II reaches her final destination. The former oil tanker, which provided the Bonairean people with fuel for many years and shielded the Aruban shiplift against wind and swells, is to become an artificial reef and serve as a dive object. She is scuttled in front of the High-rise hotels (Palm Beach) in 21 mtrs/70 ft of water by the Aruba Ports Authority (APA) in coordination with local dive operator Pelican Divers and assisted by Peter Divers.

Debbie II is the second of three ships in Aruba that are scuttled for divers; preceded by Jane Sea (September 1988) and followed by Star Gerren (August 2000). She’s therewith staying true to her name: “Debbie II”.

More background information on other (WW II) wrecks in Aruba can be found at https://willemsubmerged.wordpress.com/)

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