The Willow once saw life on the Mississipi before becoming a famous landmark on the Costa del Sol. Ñito Salas
Half-sunken Willow paddle steamer in Benalmádena marina set to be scrapped

Half-sunken Willow paddle steamer in Benalmádena marina set to be scrapped

The council will remove the iconic vessel and recover the cost after the owners failed to meet a court deadline that expired this week

Marina Rivas


Friday, 28 April 2023, 09:47

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Benalmádena town hall has started the process to remove and scrap the half-sunken Mississippi paddle steamer, the Willow, from its berth in the local marina.

The council was forced to act after the boat's owner failed to meet this Wednesday's deadline to do so itself. This was a ruling imposed by the courts after lengthy legal battles lasting several years.

Town mayor Víctor Navas said, "The council will have to undertake this work because the owner has failed to do so. We will do it and have to claim the costs back." He added, "At last we will finally be able to remove an eyesore that seriously damages the image of the marina."

The Willow, which has been moored in Benalmádena for decades, was built in 1927 for the fleet of the United States lighthouse service and worked the Mississippi River until one day it collided with another boat, rendering part of the machinery unusable. It then passed from the US military through the hands of numerous owners until it ended up in Europe, first in Antwerp and then in Liverpool, before being transferred to Benalmádena in an attempt to provide a new and groundbreaking tourist attraction. On the Costa it was used for some time as a floating nightclub, as well as a restaurant and even, allegedly, a secret brothel.

But, in 2019, after years of neglect, the vessel became a victim of bad weather and rough seas and started to sink.

Legal battle

Then a legal storm brewed with the owners demanding 13m euros in compensation for an alleged broken agreement with the town hall.

A court initially ruled that it should pay 400,000 euros for the termination of a contract with the company that owns the boat but that was appealed.

Finally, in February, a court ruled that 10,000 euros in compensation should be paid to the owner of the vessel and ordered the owner to pay the costs of removing the old steamer.

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