World Famous Wrecks here in the Red Sea!
The Red Sea has some fantastic wreck diving, including the Thistlegorm which is currently number two in the list of the world’s best wreck dives.
Storms, strong winds, dangerous currents and countless reefs have made the Red Sea difficult to navigate for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were renowned shipbuilders and the Romans traveled along Red Sea shores. The advent of steam didn’t diminish the number of wrecks. Even today it’s not uncommon for ships to run aground on coral reefs. And of course there are those sunk in a war.
A fantastic dive, which has been voted one of the Top Ten Dives in the World. You’ll need to do this more than once to explore more than a tiny part of the wreck. Thistlegorm is Gaelic for Blue Thistle. A British vessel, it was attacked from the air and sunk in 1941 whilst carrying a cargo of war supplies: rifles, motor bikes, train carriages, trucks. A big wreck – 131 metres long. Currents can be strong, and in different directions at the surface and at the wreck.
This large wreck is in very good condition.
The Thistlegorm is in the Strait of Gobal, north of Ras Mohammed.
” History, wildlife and wreck. Something for everyone.”
Stevo, 30 September 2018
“If you are ever diving in the Red Sea area you must take a trip to the Thistlegorm no matter how early you have to get up to do it. I got up at 4 in the morning to do some early dives there. A fully preseved wreck where it’s not only the superstructure but also the entire cargo including boots, rifles and trucks. ”
“Most fantastic recreationally accessible wreck I have ever been on. 126 m of beautifully coral encrusted hull with an astonishing load of trains, motorbikes, jeeps, tanks and artillery…to name just a few wonderful highlights, that never look the same twice. Maybe it’s becuase you never have to dive it the same way twice – always a new route, up in one way, out another…oh and don’t forget the sight of the propeller as you come around the stern. Ahhh! fantastic. ”
“Huge wreck with so much to explore, and very good penatration options. Full of equiptment, motorbikes cars and a couple of tanks to top it off, lots of marine life and several very large schools. ”
“A real priviledge to step back in time and see such a well preserved and interesting wreck ”
Andy Ebner, Ireland
“Just returned from Sharm where I dove on the SS Thistlegorm. The site had been closed down by Egyptian authorities for a month to install buoys on the side of wrecks so diving boats would not use anymore the wreck as a point of anchorage. Most dive operators could not find the new buoys and ending up tying up the rope to the wreck…Otherwise, by far the best wreck I ever dove, excellent visibility and truly an experience worth getting at 4 am for. ”
A lovely wreck with marvellous silhouettes against the surface. This Greek ship sunk in 1983 en route from Croatia to Saudi Arabia, after colliding with a wreck. 100 m long, the stern rests at 23 m. It is lying at a 45o and can be slightly disorientating. You can go in the engine room, which is big. Other rooms lead off this. Look out for an enormous grey mottled moray eel, of sea serpent proportions, as well as coral, prawns, mullet, butterfly fish and pretty pipefish (Corythoichthys schultzi).
The Ghiannis D is north of Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef, in the Strait of Gobal.
“An absolutely beautiful wreck, teeming with life. If you have the nerve, penetrating the wreck provides an excellent view of this huge ship. One of my favourite dives in the Red Sea, and one which has to be done if you are near it. Shoals of Batfish, Giant Moray Eels, and the wreck itself are all amazing! ”
The Carnatic is on the North side of Sha’ab Abu Nuhas Reef in the Straits of Gubal. She was a sail and steam ship launched in 1862. In 1869 she struck and remained fixed on the reef. For two days she remained there with all passengers and crew staying on board. Just as they were abandoning ship she broke in half. Thirty-one people died but the rest reached the lifeboats and Shadwan Island.
One of the older wrecks in the area, it is covered in beautiful soft corals.
The Chrisoula K is on the eastern side of Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef, in the busy Strait of Gubal shipping canal.
The bottom of this wreck slopes down from 7 to 26 m at the stern with the propeller and wheelhouse. At the shallow end of the wreck is a slightly broken up reef. The stern points north-east and currents are generally mild and south-flowing. A Greek boat with a cargo of tiles and stone, it was sunk in 1981. Look out for Spanish dancers, schools of striated fusiliers (Caesio striata), box fish (Ostracion trachys) and masked butterfly fish (Chaetodon semilarvatus).
The Chrisoula K
For years there has been a debate about whether the Chrisoula K is really the Marcus, whether there are two wrecks – both the Chrisoula K and the Marcus – close together, and indeed whether a ship called the Marcus ever exist. Ned Middleton, author of Shipwrecks from the Egyptian Red Sea, is clear about it being the Chrisoula K. He quotes the Lloyds List Casualty Report for 1 September 1981
“Chrisoula K (Greek). Suez, Aug 31 – Mv Chrisoula K, ran aground yesterday in the Red Sea, sustaining serious damage but no casualties…The vessel, carrying a consignment of tiles from Italy, was on her way to Jeddah.”
“The wreck is large and complete enough to explore thoroughly and dive several times and still find new things. It’s home to a lot of the more unusual critters and reef species, like big tube sponges, boxfish and flatworms. Look out for the sohal surgeonfish at the shallow bow section! Lots of good coral here too. At the ed of our dive we spotted a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins cruising over the middle of the wreck, so overall brilliant dive and superb site. ”
Will O’Hea, UK, 12 March 2018
The Kimon was launched in 1952. Some years later the M was added by her last owners, the Ianissos Shipping Company of Panama. She sunk in December 1978 after running aground on Sha’ab Abu Nuhas reef which also claimed the Ghianis D, Chrisoula K and the Carnatic. (Why do shipping companies add single letters to ship names.)
Like other shipwrecks in the area she has many beautiful soft corals.
The dive is good both for all levels of divers. More experienced can penetrate the wreck but there is plenty to see if you would rather remain outside. The top of the wreck is at just 6 m and the lowest part at 32 m.
The Kimon M, Abu Nuhas
This makes a good night dive. The barge is literally crammed full of fish, along with several lion fish (Pterois miles and P. Radiata). Take your camera. An enormous, toothless, moray also patrols here. Look in the coral for tiny crabs (Trapezia rufopuctata).
The boat is upright, but only the hull remains.
The barge is opposite Bluff Point Lighthouse, in the Strait of Gobal.
On the 16th August 1887 the Ulysses had left Suez and entered the Red Sea. In the early hours she struck Island of Gubal Seghir, in the busy Straits of Gubal. The damage at first seemed slight and another ship was asked to send for assistance from Suez. The Ulysses was grounded on a coral reef just north of Bluff Point. However, it was not until the 20th that help arrived and by then the reef had inflicted major damage on the ship and it had to be abandoned. The Ulysses is 91 m long. Her stern is at 27 m and bows in the shallows. She is covered in soft corals and contains many fish
During the war the Rosalie Moeller was transporting coal from Britain to Alexandria. She anchored in the Straits of Gubal in the Egyptian Red Sea. It was here that she was attacked by the German Luftwaffe, 2 days after they sank the Thistlegorm. She lies in 45 m, is almost totally intact and very scenic. Both masts are upright, there are many fish and you can swim from room to room.
The stern of the Rosalie Moeller
The wreck lies upside-down. Enter the wreck at the stern. You can then swim the entire length inside to the bow, which is on the reef (18 m). Be careful not to stir up the sand and mud on the bottom. End the dive by swimming along the reef. Lots of sea life. An enormous napoleon or maori wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) may greet you on the way down. The wreck is broken half way along, and an amazing shoal of glass fish school here. Look also for nudibranchs and regal angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus), plus large groupers.The Dunraven was a British ship, returning from Bombay to Newcastle carrying a cargo of wool and cotton. It sank in the 1870s. It was powered by both sail and steam.Like many wrecks, the Dunraven is in the Strait of Gubal, north of Beacon Rock and 12 km West of Ras Mohammed.
Depth: 4-19 m
The Kingston ran into the reef at Shag Rock in 1881, with no loss of life. She lies on a sloping reef wall in 4-19 m of water. Large shoals of goatfish stay close to the wreck, giant morays live within and turtles are often seen there. The wreck lies perpendicular to the current so can provide shelter. The reef it lies on is very pretty, featuring a mass of hard table corals.
The Kingston was built in 1871 and was one of a new type of ship which had a funnel as well as two masts. When she was first discovered, she was referred to as the Sarah H until her real identity was discovered. (According to Ned Middleton – author of Shipwrecks from the Egyptian Red Sea – Shlomo Cohen discovered the wreck and, as he had to refer to it as something, called it after Sarah Hillel – dive guide and wife of the dive boat’s captain).
The wreck has no entirely enclosed areas. The beauty of the corals, the large shoals of fish and the structure still remaining make it a very enjoyable dive.
Miniya / El Mina
The wreck of an Egyptian minesweeper sunk by an Israeli plane in 1970. She lies on her port side at 30 m, in Hurghada Bay. Although most commonly referred to as El Mina, the ship was actually called the Miniya, 58 m long, El Mina is almost completely intact and is permanently buoyed. Follow the buoy line down and dive along the outside of the wreck. You will see a machine guns, still loaded. The interior is cramped and crumbling so it’s not recommended to go inside.
The wreck of a roll-on roll-off ferry which sunk in 1991. 470 Lives were lost. It as on route to Safaga from Jeddah and overloaded with pilgrims returning from Mecca.
I dived it shortly after it sank, without realising what I was diving. I’ve never dived it since. The sight of the luggage and people’s belongings lying new on the seafloor and the growing realisation that this was a recent tragedy made for one of my worst ever dives.