The Saint Johns Plateau is an area of the Red Sea well known for it's under water reefs (Habilis) and amazing marine life. Home to about 10 dive sites, it is an excellent place to visit.
(Specific dive site details are prevelant in the Deep South itinerary)
Fury Shoals AKA Sataya is described by artists as "The Kingdom of Hard Corals" This amazing area of the Red Sea is again, in it's singularity, one of the most amazing places on earth. Visit the reefs and gaze upon the colossal Brain Coral like colorful sleeping giants and the amazing coral caves which have formed in the shallows over hundreds of millions of years.
Also enjoy the famed Dolphin Reef and visit 1000's of happy Spinner Dolphin!!!!
(Detials of dive site can be found on the Deep South itinerary)
Built in Sunderland (England) in 1912 by J.D. LAING for the Anglo Saxon Petroleum Co., the 4900 ton, 374 ft, S.S. TURBO was fitted for carrying liquid fuel in bulk and machinery aft. The records show her engine specification, built by DICKINSONS at the Deptford Yard, as a 3 cylinder triple expansion engine. She was a typical 'Centre Island' vessel with sealed holds fore and aft of the Island. Her engine room was situated at the stern of the ship.
Having survived WW1 she continued her trade until 1940, the start of WW2, when she was put under Admiralty service. Her weather deck, above the steering quadrant, was adapted into a gun deck. She was armed with a 4” gun and 4 Hotchiss. She carried out numerous missions between Port Said, Haifa, Piraeus, Aden and Istanbul.
Constructed: 1912 (Sunderland, England)
Length of ship: 114m (374ft)
Wreck location: Sataya El Bara, near Ras Banas, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: 14m to 28m
On August 20th 1941 the Turbo was attacked by German aircraft while en route from Haifa to Alexandria with a cargo of 7500 tons of Admiralty fuel. The crew included 3 naval and 7 military gunners. The ship had left Haifa just before dark on the 19th August 1942
Captain J.B. JONES accounts:
"Weather on the afternoon of the 20th was fine with light air and we steamed at 7.5 knots steering a westerly course, zigzagging on no. 10. At 1745 A.T.S. 35 miles from Damietta, we sighted two twin engine bombers heading towards us from the west out of the sun, which was then 2 points off our port bow. They were light blue, 50 ft above the water and flying one behind the other. When they were in range we commenced firing with the Hotchiss, two of which were fixed on the bridge, one forward and one on the f’o’csle head. We could not bring the 4” gun to bear at this stage.
The first plane when about ¾ mile off the starboard bow, dropped a torpedo which I saw approaching and I swung the ship hard astarboard. The vessel answered the helm and the torpedo ran harmlessly along the starboard side.
Meanwhile the second aircraft made a wider circle round the starboard side until he was ¾ mile on our starboard quarter, then he released his torpedo. The ship was still swinging to starboard. I saw the white wake and a second later it struck the vessel halfway between the bow and stern on the starboard side. There was a terrific explosion, a cloud of black smoke and a column of water was thrown at least 95ft, but there was no flame. There was a strong smell of cordite.
We could now bring the 4” to bear and were able to get off one round as the plane flew off. We continued to fire the Hotchiss guns using all our ammunition except for 25 rounds. The planes continued to circle at a distance of 2 miles then flew off. 10 minutes later two of our own fighters appeared. The attacking planes were Italian S79 type Bombers adapted to carry Torpedoes.
The ship rocked so badly after the explosion that I thought the ship was going to break in two, so I stopped the engines. The pump room and nos 3, 4 and 5 holds were flooded, the deck was buckled on the starboard side between 3 and 4 tanks and there was a large hole in the ships side some 40ft fore and aft. There were cracks in the starboard side running from the main shear strake down to the bilge keel."
The Turbo had survived the attack, at slow speed she continued the voyage, and the captain found that by increasing her speed to 6 knots she stopped rocking, and they safely arrived at Port Said on the 21st August. Here part of her cargo was discharged and she continued through the Suez Canal to offload her remaining cargo.
The Turbo had survived but was damaged beyond repair, although she could still provide a useful purpose for the war effort. Her armament was removed and she left Suez on April 1st 1942 for Karachi in tow of the GLADYS MOLLER (sister-ship of the Rosalie Moller) destined to be used as a fuel storage hulk.
On the 4th April as they neared Ras Banas (reported position puts them approximately 15 miles north) the ship broke in two, presumably from the damage sustained in the bombing, and was
"cast adrift because of heavy weather. Forepart sunk as it was a danger to navigation. Afterpart is presumed to have foundered”. Lloyds war losses records.
“While proceeding towards Aden, as a hulk, SS TURBO broke her back in a heavy sea. Gladys Moller stood by, stern could not be boarded, during the night of the 5th all contact with the stern was lost and the bow section sunk by gunfire on the night of the 5th by an unknown vessel under instruction form the Admiralty at Port Sudan."
The Wreck Today
Credit for the discovery of this wreck goes to the Skipper of Lady M live-aboard. They called it the half wreck because it consisted of a stern and superstructure and one very large hold. At first we thought this was the Hadia, which had been described as a tanker in some records, but entering her engine room revealed a large single triple expansion steam engine, not a diesel as in the Hadia. Inside the engine room a plate with R.C. CRAGGS embossed and a works number would if fact prove to be something of a red herring in her identification, but without this knowledge to hand we set about looking for the missing section of the ship; the other half in fact. We were to search in vain... the bow lies in deep water somewhere to the north we assume.
The hull now lies on a sandy bed in 28 mtrs very close to the reef face on its port side. The starboard side is in about 18 mtrs while the port side almost touches the sand. The stern faces northwest. The break in the hull is from the rear of the centre island which sank with the fore section. The raised walkway runs aft to the engine room and accommodation island and the cross members are covered in corals and home to multitude of fish. The helm direction indicator is intact and stands proud on her aft deck and although her rudder was removed the prop can still be seen partially buried in the sand.
The engine room is huge, easy to explore and totally intact. It is possible to explore three floors down into the heart of the ship Gauges, valves piping, dials notices, (one reads “water 1/3 above combustion when show in glass in all engines”) gratings and handrails are all intact. There are many storerooms off to the sides with tools and other equipment, much of which is concreted into place, and a workshop complete with lathe, even oilcans and watering cans! The engine room is very atmospheric with good light filtering through the skylights, although the angle at which she lies can be somewhat disorientating. Her repeater telegraph still hangs waiting for the next command.
Forward of the engine room is her boiler room and the funnel casing, again all her fittings, gauges and valves are in situ. The stern area under the weather deck is an area of great interest with more store rooms, wheel barrows, spare ventilation cowls and some great swim through's. A raised walkway supporting the vessels piping is home to a multitude of life forms from sponges to lionfish and the cross bracing's make a great swim through and photo backdrop. The deck is an intricate latticework of pipes valves and fittings, used to transfer the bulk liquid fuel to her tanks in a delicate balancing act.
Lifeboat davits, handrails and stairwells provide alternative backdrops for photography. Fascinating marine life including vast numbers of the Pixie Hawkish, a rare sighting anywhere else but here. Although the visibility is less than stunning, the encrusting, macro and fish life and general intactness are a great incentive to dive her more than once. Sadly the aft mast which used to reach up close to the surface has been snapped in two.