the dive sites
Abu Nahas is famed by here main 5 ship wrecks which are easy to dive and arel an amzing experiance. One of the great things about this site is the 4 wrecks are all of complely different origin and time of build making it a time warp if you will. The Name Abu Nahas means: "The Brass One", because ships normally represent a lot of brass :)
Abu Nahas also offers divers an excellent enclosure in which to settle between dives making it an excellent second day to any Safari.
The Wrecks of Abu Nahas:
The second half of the eighteen hundreds was an era when tall ships ruled the trade routes, beautiful slender vessels that overlapped the time of sail and the time of steam. The Carnatic was one of those proud ships. With 34 passengers she was trafficking the route Suez – Bombay – china for The Peninsula & Oriental line under the command of Captain P.B. Jones and his 176 members of crew. The cargo was cotton bales, copper sheets, Royal Mail and £40.000 of Spices.
Just after midnight September 12th 1869 The Carnatic hit the reef of Shaab Abu Nuhas. The night was tranquil and the brakes over the reef didn’t give its position away until it was already too late to correct the course. The Carnatic ran aground and was firmly stuck on of the reef. However, the situation seemed safe and Captain Jones was sure that the pumps would be able to rid the inflowing water. He trusted the P&O liner Sumatra, that was due to pass shortly, would be in time to help. For more than 48 hours he was right but before The Sumatra steamed into sight the reef ate through the iron hull and The Carnatic broke in two. The aft section was ripped off, rolled over and sunk followed by 5 passengers and 26 of the crew. This caused the bow to re-float, roll over to the port side and disappear beneath the waves. The remainder of the passengers and crew saved themselves into the lifeboats that came off as The Carnatic sunk and went for safety on Shedwan Island. All the £40.000 worth of specie was recovered and the myth of “half the treasure still waits to be found” is just that; a myth.
This wreck is likely to be one of the most beautiful in the Red Sea. The wooden deck is long gone and the metal framing is covered with soft coral offering exquisite photo opportunities. The stern-section is resting on port side with the rudder and propeller screw in 26 meters of water. The mid section is collapsed but still an interesting part of the dive. Here you find the boiler, funnel and the two masts that are reaching out over the sandy seabed. Like the stern, the bow is a framework of metal incrusted by one hundred and fifty years worth of coral growth. Where the bowsprit once was attached a peeping hole now opens for a classic and world famous camera angle.
Once the wreck was full of wine bottles but years of souvenir-hungry divers have deprived The Carnatic from this treasure. Now all you can find is a few broken bottles here and there. See but not touch is the rule here.
Type: Steam/Sailor Passenger/Cargo -ship
Built: 1862 in London
1776 ton – 89.8m x 11.6m
Engine: 4 cylinder compound inverted
Sank: Sept 14th 1869
Depth: 26 meters
West – south axis
The Giannis D:
The Giannis D, a 100m general cargo vessel built in Japan but under Greek ownership, hit the Abu Nuhas Reef at full tilt on 19 April 1983. The ship, laden with timber, sank to 24m with the stern and bow still intact but amidships is now a crumpled mess. The engine room at a depth of 13m offers easy and superb penetration through clouds of glassfish.
You can investigate the multilevel rooms and passageways here for octopus and giant moray eel. The bow mast extends out horizontally from the boat, creating a great spot to search for scorpionfish, gobies and nudibranchs. To end your dive you can simply climb the main mast up to the shallows at 4m and perform your
The Kimon M:
The Kimon M is the deepest of the Red Sea wrecks within recreational diving depths here. Its stern lies on the seabed at 32m, with its bow shallower at 15m. This 120m German cargo vessel sank on 12 December 1978, laden with lentils. Initially the boat sat upright on the reef but later currents and wind pushed the ship into deeper water on its starboard side. Much of its cargo and engine were recovered after its sinking. The wreck harbors several different species of pipefish.
The Chrisoula K:
The Chrisoula K was a 98m Greek registered freighter that sank on 31 August 1981, laden with floor tiles. The ship lies with its stern and propeller at 26m and its bow in shallow water at only 3m. It sits more or less upright but the stern is slowly separating. The wreck offers plenty of swim-throughs and penetration diving opportunities but beware of the numerous obstructions such as fallen beams and poles. Its superstructure is now encrusted with a layer of hard corals, and is home to flatworms, Lion Fish, Arabian Picasso triggerfish, and clown sand wrasse. Dolphins also pass by here occasionally
The Sea Star:
The Seastar is the 5th shipwreck at Abu Nuhas, but since it lies in water 90m deep, it is not frequently dived, and certainly not by recreational Red Sea divers.
Thistlegorm is one of the worlds most famous ship wrecks mainly due to it's amazing history and brave crew. The dive is an amazing experiance and a strong testament to the horros of war. Dive here with respect to our grandparents!
Below is some data about Thistlegorm excerpted from Wikipedia:
The SS Thistlegorm was a British armed Merchant Navy ship built in 1940 by Joseph Thompson & Son in Sunderland, England. She was sunk on 6 October 1941 at Shaab Ali.
Tonnage: 4898 gt
Length: 128 m (419 ft)
Beam: 18 m (59 ft)
Installed power: three-cylinder, triple-expansion, steam engine, 365 hp (272 KW)
Propulsion: single screw
Armament: 4.7-inch (120 mm) anti-aircraft gun
The SS Thistlegorm was built by Joseph Thompson & Sons shipyard in Sunderland for the Albyn Line and launched in April 1940. She was powered by a triple-expansion steam engine rated to 365 hp (272 KW). The vessel was privately owned but had been partly financed by the British government and was classified as an armed freighter. She was armed with a 4.7-inch (120 mm) anti-aircraft gun and a heavy-calibre machine gun attached after construction to the stern of the ship. She was one of a number of "Thistle" ships owned and operated by the Albyn Line, which was founded in 1901, based in Sunderland, and had four vessels at the outbreak of World War II.
The vessel carried out three successful voyages after her launch. The first was to the US to collect steel rails and aircraft parts, the second to Argentina for grain, and the third to the West Indies for rum. Prior to her fourth and final voyage, she had undergone repairs in Glasgow.
She set sail on her fourth and final voyage from Glasgow on 2 June 1941, destined for Alexandria, Egypt.
The vessel’s cargo included: Bedford trucks, Universal Carrier armored vehicles, Norton 16H and BSA motorcycles, Bren guns, cases of ammunition, and 0.303 rifles as well as radio equipment, Wellington boots, aircraft parts, and two LMS Stanier Class 8F steam locomotives. These steam locomotives and their associated coal and water tenders were carried as deck cargo and were for the Egyptian Railways. The rest of the cargo was for the Allied forces in Egypt. At the time the Thistlegorm sailed from Glasgow in June, this was the Western Desert Force, which in September 1941 became part of the newly formed Eighth Army. The crew of the ship, under Captain William Ellis, were supplemented by 9 naval personnel to man the machine gun and the anti-aircraft gun.
Due to German and Italian naval and air force activity in the Mediterranean, the Thistlegorm sailed as part of a convoy via Cape Town, South Africa, where she refueled, before heading north up the East coast of Africa and into the Red Sea. On leaving Cape Town, the light cruiser HMS Carlisle joined the convoy. Due to a collision in the Suez Canal, the convoy could not transit through the canal to reach the port of Alexandria and instead moored at Safe Anchorage F, in September 1941 where she remained at anchor until her sinking on 6 October 1941. HMS Carlisle moored in the same anchorage.
There was a large build-up of Allied troops in Egypt during September 1941 and German intelligence (Abwehr) suspected that there was a troop carrier in the area bringing in additional troops. Two Heinkel He-111 aircraft were dispatched from Crete to find and destroy the troop carrier. This search failed but one of the bombers discovered the vessels moored in Safe Anchorage F. Targeting the largest ship, they dropped two bombs on the Thistlegorm, both of which struck hold 4 near the stern of the ship at 0130 on 6 October. The bomb and the explosion of some of the ammunition stored in hold 4 led to the sinking of the Thistlegorm with the loss of four sailors and five members of the Royal Navy gun crew.
Mr. Rejda single-handedly saved most of the sailors by swimming into the wreck and towing them to safety. The survivors were picked up by HMS Carlisle. Captain Ellis was awarded the OBE for his actions following the explosion and a crewman, Angus McLeay, was awarded the George Medal and the Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea for saving another crew member. Most of the cargo remained within the ship, the major exception being the steam locomotives from the deck cargo which were blown off to either side of the wreck.
The Rosalie Muller is an excellent wreck dive if only for the amazing artificial reef she has created. Some divers actually opt to stay here for a couple of days to make sure that they have seen everything they can while most are content with just the one dive.
Another great thing about Rosalie is her location! Just 15 minutes by boat, we can visit an EXTREMELY friendly pod of Dolphin who simply LOVE divers!
"Deep Voyage dives the Rosalie Muller totally different than anyone else simply because we recognize how much of an awesome dive it is!!!
Let us take you for an amazing dive on this amazing reef... and YES I said REEF!!!... She has been given a new life under the sea as a living reef" ~ Ahmed Adly
Below is an excerpt about Rosalie Muller:
Lucky divers who reach Gubal Island in good weather may enjoy this dive. The Ulysees is covered by abundant marine life and Corals and simply makes a great dive.
The Ulysses is another "grandfather" wreck of the Red Sea. Travelling from London to Penang and under the command of Captain Arthur Bremner, she struck the reef on the east side of Small Gubal Island on August 16th 1887. She was carrying a mixed cargo, much of which was manually unloaded by the crew of the HMS Falcon, which came to her assistance. This was done whilst she was stricken on the reef top. Some of her cargo of large drums of cable was not salvaged and now lies on the coral slopes amongst the wreckage. I have often heard this wreck referred to as "The Cable Wreck". After a valiant fight she finally slipped beneath the waves sometime between 20th August and 6th September 1887, sinking 18 years after the Carnatic (which hit the not too distant reef of Abu Nuhâs). Very similar in construction to the Carnatic she was a British sail and steamship, steel hulled and of "iron framed planked" construction. 95 metres in length she had a beam of just over 10 metres making her sleek in design for that time.
Today, well over 100 years later, the Ulysses is a stunning dive site. Her location means that she is not one of the most dived wrecks in the area - in fact to the contrary, very calm conditions are required to dive her. The outside east side of Small Gubal Island is located on the edge of the Straights of Gubal facing directly into the oncoming north to south current. The current here can be very strong and the surface swell is often large making boat mooring near impossible. The normal way to dive here will be a long boat ride from the south side of Bluff Point in your dive vessels tender or RIB. Once in the water, if the current isn't strong, head to the stern section which is the deepest and most intact part of the ship. With a maximum depth here of 28m you will see distinct similarities between the Ulysses and the Carnatic. Her deck planking has long since gone, opening up her rear section like a giant rib cage. Glassfish and sweepers have congregated here in their hundreds making for some lovely photographs. It is easy to swim into the stern section (take care as soft corals cover the wreck) and the missing decking means that exit points can be easily found. As you head amidships most of the ship is badly broken and you will see a number of large cable drums. The bow (as shallow as 6 metres) is very broken having been constantly battered in the shallow waters, however a multitude of Red Sea fish, such as antheas, bannerfish and hoards of butterflyfish drift lazily around the wreckage. The coral reef here is also impressive with layer upon layer of stone corals, acropora table coral and raspberry coral.
This small 57 metre long coastal motor tanker was built at Karlstad (Sweden) in 1956. She was 441 tons gross, and was fitted with a diesel 5 cylinder engine. She had sailed under various other names; Baltica, Baltic, Niki until she became the Laura Security in 1981 when she was purchased by Malacontas S.A. and registered in Panama.
She ran aground with a cargo of gas oil in heavy weather on a voyage from Suez to Ras Shukier on April 22nd 1983 and was deemed a total constructive loss.
The Wreck Today
The vessel sits upright with its bridge out of the water. Many of the hull plates had fallen to the seabed allowing sunlight to stream through its vertical supports highlighting shoals of fish. The strong sunlight afforded by the shallow depths, provides endless photo opportunities. The bow and stern are very photogenic and the supporting fish life is quite amazing.
It is possible to explore the fo’c’sle and engine room - the later being the deepest part of the wreck in only 8 metres. Due to its location, the wreck is blessed by the afternoon sun and the long beams of light shine through many holes in the wreck. Those who are not put off by the lack of depth are well rewarded.
The deck lies in only 6 metres, but all of her valves, piping and other fittings are all still in situ. Shoals of fish find shelter amongst the frameworks.
The Aboudy was located on September 13th 2005 by Peter Collings and members of Bromley BS-AC.
Constructed: 1960 (Germany)
Length of ship: 76m (250ft)
Wreck location: Ras Gharib, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: surface 10m
The Wreck Today
The wreck lies on its port side in a north south attitude with the bows to the north and her keel to seaward.
The bridge and superstructure are located aft and have collapsed. The holds, which run continuously through the ship, still contain some of her cargo - hundreds of 120ml bottles of cough medicine lie in the silt and the surrounding sand, and long lengths of aluminium extrusion lie in twisted heaps. Two huge and very photogenic A-frame derricks run horizontal, flanking the holds. A radio mast runs out from the bridge area. The fo’c’sle has evidence of other items of cargo stored there. Handrails and flagstaffs are intact, and several bulk head lamps can still be seen. The prop and rudder are still in place in only 7 metres of water. Several mast lamps, complete with lenses, remain in their appropriate place.
Given the shallow depth there is plenty of time to explore this fascinating shipwreck - with the bonus of strong sunlight and varied marine life which includes shoaling barracuda and fusiliers, emperor angle fish, crocodile fish, torpedo rays as well as encrusting corals and sponges on the hull and fittings. However, the site is subject to swell as the seabed is sandy and visibility can be greatly reduced in poor weather.
The TURKIA has the potential for being the new Thistlegorm. A very similar vessel to the Thistlegorm, she was also sunk by explosion and was also carrying war materials. The wreck is diveable all year round and attracts an amazing amount of marine life. Currently well out of the range of most safari boats, she is without doubt one of the very best wrecks found in sport diving depths in Egyptian waters.
Built in Hull (England) in 1909 as the LIVORNO (2), she was a schooner rigged steam cargo ship of 1671 tonnes gross, 300ft long and a 42 ft beam. Clinker built by Earles Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. (yard no. 562), she was fitted with a reciprocating, triple expansion steam engine and able to make 9.5 knots. She has 4 bulkheads and a cruiser stern, single shaft and propeller. She was built for Thomas Wilson Sons & Co, again of Hull.
Upon completion in 1910, she was deployed in a variety of trades, serving between Hull, London and the Adriatic in her first year. In 1911 between Hull, Constantinople, Novorossick and Odessa and between St Petersburg and Cronstadt. In 1916 she was employed in the Hull–Trieste run. On the eve of the start of WW1 she was engaged in the Manchester-Liverpool to St Petersburg, Revel/Riga trade, making 6 voyages in all. After the war she was involved in a variety of routes carrying perishable fruits and bulk cargos such as coal.
Constructed: 1909-1910 (Hull, England)
Length of ship: 91m (300ft)
Wreck location: near Zafarana Lighthouse, Gulf of Suez, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: 10m to 24m
Right image: The Turkia wreck is located a long way up the Gulf of Suez, well out of range of most Red Sea safari boats from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.
The Turkia's final voyage began in New York in May 1941, where she was loaded with a full cargo of 'government stores' - she was bound for Piraeus (Greece). The cargo included explosives, tyres, coils of wire, ingots, vehicles and firearms.
There are two conflicting reports of her sinking:
i) "Bombed off Zafarana Light 2 miles S.E. May 14th 1941"..."Destroyed by fire and explosion near Zafarana Light Gulf of Suez, after being abandoned by her crew when on passage from New York to Piraeus with general cargo and explosives."
ii) "17/May/1941 she had a fire in no. 3 hold where explosives were stored (she was carrying explosives and general cargo) and the fire was beyond control so the vessel was abandoned. 10 minutes later there was a large explosion and the vessel sank in 12 fathoms. Nothing was being done to salvage as no competent salvage service was available at Port Said." Source: Anne Crowe, Lloyds.
This would explain why she is not in Lloyds War Losses records as it sounds like an accident rather than enemy action. Indeed the hull would appear to be intact and she looks as if she has settled slowly and upright.
Due to the Straits of Gibraltar being closed off by enemy forces, her journey entailed entering the Red Sea at its southern end. She entered the Gulf of Suez and was proceeding north when, just off the lighthouse at Zafarana, fire broke out in number 3 hold and due to the nature of her cargo she was abandoned. 10 minutes later she was rocked by an explosion and settled upright in 12 fathoms. Due to the lack of facilities at Suez no salvage was attempted. Due to the nature of her sinking she does not appear as a casualty of war, merely a wartime loss.
Peter recounts his story: "Browsing through the wartime records I came across two separate entries for the sinking of the Turkia. One stated she had been attacked and bombed by enemy aircraft the other stated that she had sunk due to an internal explosion. Both agreed about her position – near Zafarana Lighthouse in the Gulf of Suez, a long way north of RAS GARIB, our most northerly exploration of the Gulf of Suez so far.
November 2006: I traveled to the area to seek local knowledge in order to establish a more precise location of the wreck. A fisherman claimed to know her position. I decided to enlist the help of my good friend Basim and put together a road trip from Sharm. At Zafrana the only means of putting to sea available was a disused glass bottom boat, lying on the beach at the Zafarana Hotel. A 10 minute journey took us to the target area, and with the shallow seabed of sand (24 metres depth) the shadow of the wreck was eventually located, rising up to within 10 metres of the surface."
The Wreck Today
The wreck sits upright on sand in 24 metres depth, with the bow facing towards the shore. The hull is intact, although some areas have holes appearing in the upper sections. Both masts have been cut below the water line and lie off to the side of the wreck. The surrounding seabed is littered with debris from the wreck and is patrolled by Jacks and Travellies.
The bow sits proud, bathed in sunlight and is straight raked - the same vintage as the Rosalie Moller. Clouds of fairley basslets swarm over the fo’c’lse head with its access hatches, hawse pipes, panama eye, triple cleats and windlass. Three deck houses sit at the aft section of the fo’c’sle, and there are coils of wire and vehicle tyres littered around. Mussels encrust most of the raised structures.
Entry into the fo’c’sle head can also be accessed from the main deck and leads to the sea mans quarters - where bed frames can still be found.
Holds 1 and 2 have two ‘tween decks with large numbers of tyres on the upper shelves. The deeper section of the holds contain wooden crates, some containing hundreds of brass detonator caps. There are also hundreds of heavy rubber bases, their purpose as yet not known. Winches flank the holds, and in the second hold there are several vehicles, heavily encrusted, but appear to be cabs with extended chassis, possibly tank transporters.
The superstructure has external companionways, all the wood having long since gone, the rooms are easily entered. The saloon sits below the chart room, with a corridor running port to starboard. Flanking the engine house, running aft on the starboard side is the 1st mates room, bathroom, 2nd & 3rd mates accommodation, chief engineers quarters and finally the cooks quarters.
On the port side are the stewards quarters followed by the pantry, galley, and 2nd & 3rd engineers quarters. All are easy to enter and explore. The accommodation areas are littered with crockery and bottles; various inscriptions help to confirm her last port of call; "FLORIDA WATER, MURRAY & LANMAN, DRUGISTS, NEW YORK" and
"SLOANS LINIMENT, MADE IN THE USA".
The engine room, located amidships, is easy to access through several openings. The skylights above allow natural light to filter down into the interior. Experienced divers can descend two flights of stairs, passed the triple expansion steam cylinder heads. In the deepest part of the engine room (24m) are the repeater telegraphs and gauges, their dials obscured by years of concretion. Silt is slowly building up covering the floor in a layer over a foot thick. A platform of grating walkways forms a gallery around the cylinder head, with an auxiliary boiler aft. The gallery around the engine room offers some great photographic subjects bathed in strong natural light-here the depth is only 12 mtrs, and there is very little silt.
Behind the engine house there is access into the no. 3 cargo hold, again with 2 ‘tween decks with more of her general cargo in view. Number 4 hold is totally full of mortar shells, which have totally concreted into the hold, still in their cases, the outlines of which can still be made out. Behind this hold is a narrow hold giving access to the stern store rooms, and steering house. The steering quadrant is located on the poop deck and nearby a coral encrusted compass binnacle stands proud.
The cruiser/ fan-tailed stern leads down to her rudder and prop - shrouded with a fishing net at the time of writing - the prop blades are covered with soft corals.
The wreck is covered in a unique eco system of soft fan corals, nudibranchs and schooling reef fishes. Large schools of juvenile yellow tailed barracuda swarm over the wreck, cascading in an endless waterfall over the sides of the ship, down to the sea bed and back over the deck, often blotting out the sunlight.
There would appear to be little or no current over the wreck site.
The Bakr was a 49 metre, 416 ton, survey vessel built in Kiev by Leninskaya Kuznitzal, for the United Arab Republic General Petroleum Co. She was sunk at Ras Gharib by Israeli missiles on October 14th 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.
Discovery of the Wreck
In March 2006 the wreck was discovered sitting upright on a sandy seabed just of the headland at Ras Gharib, in 12 mitres of water. Identification of the wreck was made easy by the name embossed on her stern and her bow. Except for the damage caused by the missiles the hull appears intact, and it is possible to enter the hull and investigate the interior of the vessel.
Constructed: not known (Kiev, USSR)
Length of ship: 49m (160ft)
Wreck location: Ras Gharib, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: Surface to 12m
The Wreck Today
All around the wreck are the day to day artifacts of the working life of a survey vessel. Winches cable drums, generators and fittings.
Her booms are still in an outward position as if she was towing arrays at the time of her sinking.
The bow is an impressive sight, bathed in strong sunlight in only a few metres of water, her anchor winch still in place. It would appear that the wreck has been swept to the waterline.
Built in 1922 for the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co at Swan Hunters, Newcastle, this 5683 ton steam tanker was 411ft long, 55ft beam and 30ft draught. She was capable of 10 knots and fitted with triple expansion engines built by the Wallsend Slipway Engineering Co. She was requisitioned in the Admiralty services during WW2 and armed with 1 x 4" gun, 1 x 12pnr, 2 x twin Lewis, 4 x Hotchkiss and one Breda. She had a crew of 52 including 4 navy gunners.
Constructed: 1922 (Newcastle, England)
Length of ship: 125m (411ft)
Wreck location: Ras Galib, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: surface to 10m
On the 19th October 1942, the S.S. Scalaria was anchored at Ras Gharib and taking on a load of 7,000 tons of crude oil.
The Captains account reads: "At 22:15 I made the rounds of the ship, saw the gunners at their posts. At 22:30 I retired to my room, but was awakened by an attacking Heinkel 111 approaching from the land, roughly westward. The aircraft circled at approximately 100 ft, then dropped a torpedo which struck the ship on the starboard side aft of the bridge in no. 3 tank. There was a terrific explosion which caused the ship to shudder violently and carried away the stern moorings, causing the ship to swing round from north to south. All the woodwork in my room collapsed and the iron frame twisted, jamming the two doors. By sheer force I burst one door open and on reaching the deck saw the whole of the after starboard side of the deck was ablaze, with burning oil pouring from the ships side and drifting aft.
At this point the Heinkel lined up for another attack, this time releasing a bomb. Some of the men were trapped aft and ran up onto the poop, others on the fo’c’scle slid down ropes over the bow. I was about to shout to these men when a bomb struck the foredeck with a terrific explosion. I was badly burned and injured by this bomb and saw it was no use trying to get the men to come amidships as the whole foredeck was now blazing furiously".
Aided by the Chief officer, and although badly wounded, Captain Waring lowered the amidships life boat. The bo’sun and chief steward made it into the boat as Warring and the chief officer slid down the falls. With only the Chief officer and the bo’sun uninjured they were unable to progress forward to rescue other crew members in the water due to the weight of the boat and strong currents.
Captain Waring: "As we drifted I called out to the men on the poop to jump or throw us a rope but they were too slow. By the stern buoy we could see more men calling out and we picked up six more crewmen. Even with this extra manpower we were unable to row against the wind sea and current. I was thankful to see a launch approach from the shore which picked up all remaining survivors."
2nd Officer Armatage accounts: "I was 2nd officer on the tanker Scalaria. At about 11pm I was thrown out of my bunk by a terrific explosion. Altogether we were hit by 4 bombs. The ship was like an inferno. I noticed the 3rd officer unconscious. I picked him up and made my way forward. We joined others on the fo’c’le and lowered the anchor cables, went over the side and hung onto them with the ship blazing above our heads."
For his bravery, Armatage was awarded the MBE and the Lloyds Medal.
Discovering the Wreck
Armed with the detailed accounts from the ships logs, and information and hydrographic reports, three expeditions were carried out to try and locate the wreck.
By the third trip we had located several other wrecks; Aboudy, Attiki, Bakr, Birchwood, Elliot, Gemini and Laura Security. These findings has allowed us to eliminate several suspects - Scalaria was by far a bigger ship and by the third trip we had a pretty good idea where she must be. At 411ft long and 5600 tons, this was a lot of ship and should have been an easy target to spot. Members of Brighton BS-AC joined me in the search and we found her a mile north of our 'guesstimate'. Even before we dived her, I knew this was the Scalaria - there was her bow facing south just as Captain J. Waring had stated.
PROOF OF ID.
It was amongst the plates, gratings and piles which had been the engine room that we found absolute proof that would keep any skeptics quiet. The engine manufacturers plate lay upside down amongst the debris covered in concretion and half buried. Exhumed and cleaned, it was to read "WALLSEND SLIPWAY and ENGINEERING CO LTD - NEWCASTLE ON TYNE 1921" "ENGINES NO 843".
The Wreck Today
The stern, like the bow, is upright and reaches to within a few feet of the surface. Her propeller has been long since salvaged. Where the centre island had been, the wreckage stood almost to the surface with more large sections of her holds standing upright. There is evidence of the massive explosions in the form of huge sections of steel folded outwards, forming overhangs for fish to shelter.
Three huge boilers mark the aft section of the vessel. With the engine house gone, the triple expansion engine lies bare – big ends con rods and a huge reversing wheel are easily located and recognised.
The bow and fo’c’sle were found upright, broken off from the main section. Iron framework and ladders helped define the section of ship. From here back to the centre island was a dispersed area of huge proportions with her valveing and pipe work twisted, distorted and mangled. Portholes, deck fittings and winches lay scattered in a chaotic scrap yard of metal.
Although heavily salvaged, there is still much of the wreck to be seen, including the reversing wheel.
With its hull breaking the surface, the Birchwood 2 lies in a sheltered bay at Ras Shukier. With a maximum depth of only 12 metres, it offers a great introduction to wreck diving, but also has great potential for photography and supports a unique eco system.
The origins of this wreck are unknown, as are the details of how it sunk.
Constructed: not known
Wrecked: not known
Length of ship: approx 50m (165ft)
Wreck location: Ras Shukier, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: surface to 12m
The Wreck Today
Lying to the north of Ras Shukier port, in a large bay with three other wrecks, was a small 50 metre motor cargo ship on its starboard side in 12 metres of water. Totally intact, it was difficult to see why she had sunk. The early morning light streamed into the holds and bathed the entire wreck and it was easy to make out her features.
A shoal of juvenile barracuda circled her mast complete with radar array and aerials.
Just forward of the superstructure itself, at the aft of the vessel, was an intact crane - obviously used to serve the hold. The gantry was covered in life as we were to find out during a night dive. Superb swim-throughs from the weather deck into the holds were easily accomplished and here we found, like the Hamada in southern Egypt, bags of polythene granules hard against the port hull.
The foc’sle was easy to access and explore and her winch gear, like many parts of the wreck, was covered in sponge and encrusting corals. Her bow appeared intact and a deep scour ran along her keel, becoming circular by her prop and rudder. Her starboard running light lay protruding from the sand. Rounding the stern revealed two access doors at deck level into her engine room, with stair wells leading down into the lower levels - earmarked for a future visit.
Right image: A picture which sums up the excitement of an undived virgin wreck. A diver explores the wheel house of the Birchwood 2 - a wooden wheel, although showing signs of decay, is still perfectly formed.
The wheel house was to prove beyond a doubt that this was yet another undived wreck - the hammering hordes from Hurghada have never seen this. The ships wheel and compass binnacle were still in place and the telegraph lay below on the sand clearly showing its Dutch origin.
With limited time we managed one additional dive on the wreck – at night and what a gem that was. Hundreds of nudibranchs, some species new to me despite my many years in the Red Sea, sea hares and shoals of rabbit fish huddled together everywhere. Three snowflake morays shared a single hole although the giant version was missing. Lionfish hovered over the sand in search of small fry and there were many to choose from. Almost every surface of the wreck was alive with anemones, sponges and small crustaceans. The brilliant reds, oranges and greens highlighted by torch beams.
Built in 1959 as 'Escorpion' then renamed 'Lago Negro' in 1967, 'Anubis' in 1975, 'Reefer Express' in 1980 and finally the 'Alaska'. Owned by the Overseas Reefers Carriers Marine Company. She was a 928-ton refrigerated cargo vessel, fitted with an 8-cylinder diesel engine delivering 1700bhp. She was involved in regular service delivering meats to Saudi Arabia.
Wrecked: not known
Length of ship: not known
Wreck location: Sha'ab Ali, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: surface to 10m
She was returning from Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) to Suez and when entering the Gulf of Suez she caught fire and was ripped apart by an explosion. She sank 10 minutes later. Two crewmen were lost and 9 others were saved after many hours in the water.
The Wreck Today
The wreck lies in 10 metres on the west side of Sha’ab Ali. As the wreck was so encrusted into the reef, and dispersed around it, we doubted if we (Peter Collings & friends) would ever identify her. Then a life belt was located in a corner of the foc’sle - the letters A-L-A-S-K-A still readable.
The 6 metre long bow/ foc’sle lies on its port side with only the port anchor and chain in situ. The anchor winch is still in place and her masts lie alongside complete with ladders and loudspeaker. Her starboard side reaches to the surface and her cargo consists of huge granite slabs with lateral groves down the edges, presumably the bases of the cold storage units. There are also sets of cooling radiators from the refrigeration system. Brass portholes with cast storm covers litter the wreck. A spare prop sits central but there is no sign of any bridge or accommodation. The stern, again fairly intact lies on its port side and the storeroom could be accessed with care. Here a Walkers Log, and piston shells from a small engine were located. Oblong glass lenses with curved edges were also found. These turned out to be small skylights, fitted into wooded decks to allow light to filter down below. To say the least this is a very intriguing wreck. Given the depth it is possible to spend a long time on her remains.
Star of Rawiah:
Very little information has been found for this vessel. What is known is that she was a small cargo ship of 778 GRT which was built in 1943 and departed Suez enroute to Safaga in ballast, running aground and sinking on 06 April 1976 on the northern tip of Ashrafi Island at position 27.48.00N/33.40.16E in 20-24 meters of water. The ship was abandoned and declared a total construction loss.
A greek motor cargo ship of 327 feet length (100 metres) and 2460 tons. Although this wreck is sited on Abu Nuhas in some guides, it in fact lies on Sha'ab Gubal, north of the Ulysses. There are several conflicting reports about this vessel, not least the date of sinking. Her name at the time of sinking was indeed Seastar as archive pictures would confirm. Evidence from the engine room has confirmed her origins.
She had grounded on Abu Nuhas, and in the course of freeing herself, damaged her hull. Her optimistic captain decided to head north for Suez to seek repairs. By the time they reached the north of Gobul it was evident the pumps could not cope and an attempt to beach her ended in her becoming a total loss. After only a few days on the reef she flooded totally and slipped down the reef, her stern ending in 50 metres and her bow in 25 metres.
Length of ship: 100m (327ft)
Wreck location: Sha'ab Gubal, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: 25m to 50m
The Wreck Today
There is no sign of any cargo - perhaps it was perishable and may have indeed been lentils, which would account for the confusion at Abu Nuhas over lentil wrecks. The holds have quickly collapsed in, leaving the bow, superstructure and stern as the intact sections of the wreck. The engine room is accessible as is the bridge and accommodation areas, but there are many cables and jagged bits of metal to snare the unwary. She as yet has resisted the invasion of coral but jacks, trevellies and snapper thrive in the ever present current.
When attempting to dive this wreck, the weather and the strong currents which prevail down this reef must be taken into account and good surface cover is needed.
The Zietieh was built at Maryport (England) at the yard of William Walker Shipbuilders in 1911. She was a steel screw steamship, machinery aft, fitted for liquid fuel-oil burning, with a through hold and suspended bridge. She was 291 tons, 121ft long, with a 22ft beam. She was powered by a 2 cylinder steam engine, fed by a single scotch boiler supplied by J. RITCHIE & Co. Her owners were the EGYTIAN OIL TRUST, later the ANGLO EGYPTIAN OILFIELDS Ltd.
Constructed: 1911 (Maryport, England)
Length of ship: 37m (121ft)
Wreck location: Ashrafi Islands, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: 4m to 12m
Right image: This makers plate was located in the ships engine room by Andy Aston, who cleaned & photographed it and then returned it deep inside the wreck. Without this vital piece of evidence the identity of the wreck may never have come to light.
The Zietieh was carrying out her duties as a general supply vessel and was at anchor close to Ras Ziet on 29th January 1915 when she caught fire during an oil burner change over. Her boiler and deck cargo shifted and she began to take on water, finally capsizing with a list to port.
The Wreck Today
The Zietieh now lies on her port side, on a flat sandy sea bed in only 12 metres of water. The starboard side is in only 4 metres.
The raised fo’c’sle is accessible with only iron framework remaining, with lamps and other artifacts lying in the chain locker. The starboard anchor chain runs out along the sand to the anchor. A weather deck runs aft from the engine room to the steering quadrant and she has high running boards - almost tug like. All the wooden decking has gone, revealing iron framework, heavily encrusted with sponge and sea fir. Companionways run alongside the bridge and engine room; starboard accessible, port in sand.
She has a single hold forward served by a deck winch just behind the fo’c’le, although there are no signs of a mast. In the hold is a cargo of prefabricated narrow gauge railway track in straight lengths of 6mtrs, some of the cargo lies 20mtrs away from wreck. A small compact bridge straddles the aft section of the hold and has a single door forward. Above this is an open navigation bridge and wheelhouse. The helm is in place but oddly facing the stern.
The engine room is completely intact with all her fittings, valves, piping and gauges still in place. Although heavily encrusted, it is possible to imagine the everyday working life of her engineers.
The tall, straight funnel is broken off and lying on the sea bed and now home to a family of snapper. One blade of the prop is missing, the rudder still in place but the keel is bent below the rudder assembly. Otherwise there is no sign of any damage to the wreck.
Hard corals encrust the upper port side of the hull, which is made of overlapping plates which are beginning to rot away, allowing an eerie light to filter through into her single hold. The wreck is a haven for marine life; large groupers, shoals of red sea snapper, free-swimming snowflake morays and many large pyjama nudibranchs grazing on the red sponge. Batfish and map of Africa Angel fish too are found patrolling the wreck.