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The Thistlegorm was built in 1940 as a merchant vessel being 126m long and 17.5m wide. It was commandeered by the navy during the World War II.
In October 1941 the vessel had made its way round Africa and into the Red Sea. Loaded down with supplies destined for North Africa. It anchored in the holding area before moving towards the Suez Canal.
The anchorage is 5 miles wide between the Sinai Peninsula and the reef ‘Shaab Ali’ where the sea bottom is flat at around 30m.
In the early hours of the 6th October two German bombers from Crete found her and other vessels anchored there. The bombs landed in number four hold, which contained ammunition, ripping the stern section off and folding some of the deck back on itself. The ship went down and landed upright.
The wreck was first dived by Cousteau in the 50’s. However its position was not rediscovered until the early 90’s. Since then it has become one of the best wrecks to dive. The holds are open and easily accessed showing the full range of cargo carried. Like trucks, motorbikes, plane wings and engines, trains and tenders, Wellington boots and waders!!, ammunition, armoured vehicles.
The wreck is exposed to the tidal currents and the prevailing winds, which can make this dive inaccessible at times. These conditions and the depth of the dive means that this is only open to experienced divers.
This trip is done as a very early start of 04:15 as the journey is about 4 hours. This gives enough time to do 2 dives on the wreck and return by 18:00.
Safety stops are compulsory on these dives and careful monitoring of air supply and no decompression limit are essential. (Medical facilities are 4 hours away!!)
This wreck of a British Steamer is on the Southern edge of Sha’ab Mahmoud which is also known as Beacon Rock as the wreck is directly below the South Cardinal Beacon. It is about another hour boat ride past Ras Mohammed and is prone to the weather conditions. Once at the reef there is some protection from the waves but it can still be a little rough.
The Dunraven was built in 1873 in Newcastle and hit the reef in 1876. It has sunk in 30m of water right next to the reef wall and is completely upside down in two sections. The length is about 80m and it’s about 10m wide.
The stern section is in about 29m to the sand and is open in places for those qualified to enter. This leads to a swim through by the side of the ship’s boiler and out where the wreck has broken in half. The exit being usually filled with glass fish in their thousands. The bow section is in shallower water with loads of places to stick your head into, but nowhere to get in.
After the bow section the dive is usually done by fining over the hull which is covered in coral and then moving onto the reef wall and the shallows to finish the dive.
Shaab Abu Nuhas
Shaab Abu Nuhas is a magnificent coral plateau that barely reaches the surface. It lies at the very edge of the shipping lane called the Straits of Gubal. It can be reached from Sharm el Sheikh only by liveaboard. Located at the northwest corner where the Red Sea begins to narrow before it is called the Gulf of Suez the boat has to cross the open sea, which makes the trip weather depending. Famous is the area because of its four wrecks (Giannis D, Carnatic, Chrisoula K, Sea Star) that can be visited.
The Giannis D was built 1969 in Japan. The dimensions of this “General Cargo Vessel” were about 100m length and 16m width. In April 1983 on its way from Croatia to Saudi Arabia, loaded with sawn softwood, it hit the northwest corner of Shaab Abu Nuhas Reef and sunk.
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