4 July 2024






3 mins

Salvatore Bezzina, the founder of BEZZINA GROUP, began offering commercial services to the British Admiralty in the early 1940s. His company, Salv. Bezzina & Sons Ltd, was established in May 1966 and provided various services in the heavy engineering industry, including civil marine engineering, heavy haulage, dredging, steel fabrication, and erection of steel structures. Over the years, Bezzina has become synonymous with leading ship and yacht repair, maritime services, and activities in Malta.

Amongst various vessels owned by Salvatore Bezzina were 2 former Scottish built ferries which till date part of them still survives at Malta.  These 2 sisters in length were the 1939 built ABERCRAIG and the 1951 built SCOTSCRAIG.

Both were Tay Ferries, known locally as the “Fifies”  and they were the main means of crossing the Tay with a vehicle until the opening of the Tay Road Bridge. The same day as the Tay Road Bridge was opened on August 18th 1966, the SCOTSCRAIG made her  final crossing.

Salvatore Bezzina bought them in 1968 with ABERCRAIG being renamed as DE PAOLA and converted into a landing craft in 1975.  Started carrying building material to Comino from Grand Harbour assisting the 1932 built 60 metres long Gozo ferry CALYPSO LAND (Gozo to Comino) due that the Maltese Government was building a pig farm.

Early 1995 she listed 45 degrees on her starboard side while she was laid up at Church Wharf after a storm, Floating buoys were placed around her on 19th March and a year later she was broken up at her place salvaging her wooden wheelhouse which nowadays is restored and is placed at Bezzina Ship Repair Yard (BSRY).

The 51.03 metres Diesel Engine with 2 Voith Schneider propellers SCOTSCRAIG built by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company in Dundee, Scotland with large vehicular capacity and room for 800 passengers. was laid up in 1971 after she was used for harbour cruises as she was too large for such a harbour tour and therefore she was laid up.

In 1980 she was moved to Anchor Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha with nearly 200 workers spent seven months to construct Sweethaven Village for the production of the live-action musical feature Paramount Pictures Film POPEYE . Filming commenced on 23 rd January 1980 and part of the film was made on the SCOTSCRAIG which was billed as the Popeye Barge.

After the production cost rose beyond $20 million, Paramount ordered director John Altman to wrap filming and return to California with what he had. The film set village was completed in seven months and it remains there of which nowadays is a theme park.

But the vessel ingloriously sank in 1981 after she was being towed in bad weather and was then given another starring role as an underwater wreck off the island’s coast and became a tourist attraction for scuba divers and marine film producers.

BEZZINA GROUP – which they appreciate our Maritime Related Group are our SPONSORS too.

For diving around the Maltese Islands we recommend the following –

i) Galaxy Charters Malta which is based in Mellieha, who has the Diving Boat CHIKO specially designed for divers allowing  comfortable dives all around the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, who are our SPONSORS too

For more information they can be contacted on – or email them on [email protected]

ii)  OrangeShark Diving Centre which is based in Mellieha, who has 6 vehicles and the 30ft Diving Boat PAOLA ONE  specially designed for divers, allowing  comfortable dives all around the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, who are our SPONSORS too –

iii) Seashell Dive Centre which is also based at Mellieha who has 2 Diving Boats specially designed for divers allowing  comfortable dives all around the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, who are our SPONSORS too –


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