Named after a Russian poet, who was killed in a duel in his mid 20's, the Lermontov sunk under mysterious circumstances on February the 16th 1986. She was carrying over 400 mainly Australian passengers on a cruise of a lifetime, when for reasons still unknown, the ship was piloted through a shallow channel at the tip of Cape Jackson, New Zealand. The ship struck the reef on her port side which opened up a large gash. Mortally damaged the Lermontov limped into Port Gore in the Marlborough Sounds, where she subsequently sunk, with the loss of only one life, some hours later in 30 odd meters of water. There is speculation that the Mikhail Lermontov was used as a spy vessel and the official government report into her sinking will never be made public.
The Lermontov now lies on her Starboard side and is fully intact. Diving on the Lermontov is a fantastic experience, with the propellers, damage, funnel, bridge and pool area all easily assessable. Penetration dives are not recommended unless with an experienced guide. Dive Marlborough offer external and penetration dives depending on your goals and your experience. The wreck has now become an artificial reef and is encrusted with invertebrate life and home to schools of local fish. Visibility on the outside of the wreck can get down to 5 meters, inside the wreck it averages around 12 meters.