The wreck of the C-53 is an icon among divers. Located off Chankanaab Beach Park, the wreck is easily accessed by lost Cozumel dive operators.
Measuring 184 feet in length, with a 33 foot beam, the wreck lies upright on the seabed just 70 feet from the surface. The top of the pilot house sits at just 30 feet, making the wreck of the C-53 a good choice for divers of most experience levels.
Originally commissioned as WWII mine sweeper, C-53 was decommissioned after the war and sold to the Mexican Navy and converted to an Admiral Class gunboat. From 1962 until 1999, she served as guard in the Gulf of Mexico and a surveillance ship assisting in the fight against illegal arms and drug traffic.
The ship is also known as the Felipe Xicotecantl, named after a Mexican General. The ship was sunk in Cozumel at a location chosen for easy access for diving in an area that provides shelter from strong currents.
Dive boats typically tie off to a permanent mooring, which is a short swim into the current before reaching the bow of the ship. Your first glimpse of the C-53 will be front-on, with the bow towering above the sand. Here, divers usually swim along the ship’s port side in a channel formed between the ship’s hull and some low reef structure.
There can be current here, so stay close to the bottom and watch your tank pressure and NDL closely.
Upon reaching the stern, you’ll swim up the side of the ship and over the deck. Being a relatively new wreck, the deck is relatively clean, although sponge and coral growth have begun to take hold. Watch fro groupers, schooling barracudas, moray eels and a variety of reef fish.
The wreck has been cleaned for diver access to the interior of the ship. Entrances and exits are always nearby, but care should be taken to avoid contact with hard or sharp surfaces. Inside, look for glassy sweepers and shoals of sardines.
The C-53 shipwreck is a must-dive Cozumel dive site. Its moderate depth and varied marine life make it a favorite among wreck divers of all skill levels. Often, dive charters will visit the C-53 as the first dive of the day, followed by one of Cozumel’s numerous shallower reef dives.