With the intention of attracting new visitors and marine life, an old Hercules cargo aircraft that once served the Royal Jordanian Army was sunken to the depths of the Red Sea off the coast of Aqaba, Jordan, allowing divers to swim in and around the plane.

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In the Jordanian city of Aqaba on the shores of the Red Sea – just opposite of Eilat – a new attraction for divers has opened. As a means to attract more marine life and visitors, local authorities created a new diving site around an old C-130 Hercules airplane laid at the bottom of the sea.

The large cargo aircraft, which was used by the Jordanian Royal Army to carry hundreds of soldiers and equipment throughout the skies of the Middle East, was sunk this past weekend and laid to rest at a depth of 17 meters below the sea. “It will add value to divers’ experience. They will be able to swim around and inside the plane,” said Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Chief Commissioner Nasser Shraideh, an entrepreneur working to promote tourism in Aqaba with the government’s support.

The sinking of the Hercules aircraft

The sinking of the Hercules aircraft Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The sunken Hercules is not the first military attraction the Jordanians have sunk in Aqaba. Since the 1990s, divers who visit the city can take part in an entire underwater military tour, in which they can see a sunken tank and a warship. Every year, hundreds of divers head out into the depths of the Red Sea to explore the newly formed aquatic ecosystems of marine life that have made the former military structures their home.

“People like ruins. When they have a few sites like this while on vacation it becomes a real attraction,” says Tara Artner, a Canadian diving instructor who lives in Aqaba and accompanied the process of sinking the plane.

Tourism is an important source of revenue for the Jordanian kingdom, accounting for 10% of the country’s gross domestic product. Jordan’s Tourism Ministry reported that in 2016 alone, 3.8 million tourists entered the country for at least one night and that this year an increase of 2.6% was seen, a number that is expected to rise.