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From the Soviet Union to Our Shallow Waters: History of the Abandoned Shipwreck in Turks and Caicos

The Story Behind La Famille Express


It’s a bright, sunny morning as you climb down that plane ramp, taking your first steps into paradise, setting your watches to Turks and Caicos time (and getting hit with that wave of humidity). As you arrive in the Turks and Caicos Islands, you already know you’ll be greeted by our famous white-sand beaches, palm trees, and beautiful turquoise waters. What you might not have expected is the opportunity to come face-to-face with (and jump off of!) your very own piece of shipwrecked history: La Famille Express.

Abandoned Shipwreck in Turks and Caicos
Best Way to Experience the Shipwreck: On a ‘Ski!


Since the early 1500s, over 1,000 shipwrecks have taken place in the shallow barrier reefs surrounding the Turks and Caicos islands. Many of them, including the Caicos Express Wreck, South Dock Tug Boat, and more, are still standing today. Out of all of them, however, La Famille Express is the most famous–for good reasons. Marooned in the ocean just 2 miles off of Long Bay Beach, this shipwreck stands at over 25 feet tall, and is only accessible

via jet ski or boat. As you approach from below, prepare to be mesmerized by the ship's sheer size and its bluish-green hue, and mystified at the eye-catching foreign script painted across the hull. You may even find yourself asking–how did this ship end up here?

Abandoned shipwreck tour turks and caicos
Circle the Perimeter With Speed


This is a story that goes back over 10 years, all the way to a smallf coastal town in the Soviet Union. In 1953 the

boat was built, and upon completion is christened “Fort Shevchenko,” after a military base town on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan. It was later sold to the Panama fleet, but not before taking part in the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (All my history buffs out there–We see you!)

Jetskiing abandoned shipwreck turks and caicos
Ride Up Close, & Get a Good Look!


Fast Forward to 2004, and Hurricane Francis strikes the TCI, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate as harsh winds tear trees out of the ground at 145 mph. In the chaos of the storm, La Famille Express, still flying the Panamanian flag, blows out of its mooring by the docks and out to sea. 19 years later, she continues to sit in the shallow waters of the bay, having found new life as the perfect spot for a quick swim, an instagram-worthy photo, or even a jump–if you dare.

Eager to get out there and explore this shipwrecked piece of history? Check out our tour packages below, to read more about your options. Better yet, reserve your spot today! To cruise the waves of Long Bay Beach, and jump off the helm of La Famille Express!


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