Miscellaneous Vessels and other Names
Associated with Shipwrecks of the Egyptian Red Sea
By Ned Middleton
Note: Ned Middleton is a professional Underwater Photo-Journalist who has published a number of articles in recent years about Red Sea Wrecks. Please send corrections to Ned Middleton here.
Ashrafi Islands. Shaab Ashrafi and the Zeit Channel is an area primarily engaged in the production of Oil. Consequently, it is a very busy place with restrictions in force. Most Diving companies do not travel here. Five shipwrecks are clearly marked on Admiralty Chart 2375 and could be any of the following vessels. They are not regularly dived:
Star of Rawiah
Bacchis - a small Panamanian Freighter lost in 1983 on the Ashrafi Islands.
The Barge at Bluff Point. A small remnant of a vessel which lies in the bay below Bluff Point. There have been many opinions about the original identity if this ship - including; an Egyptian Naval vessel sunk during the 6 day war, a Barge in tow lost during a storm, a Diving Boat and a Cruising Yacht. She was probably an old barge. As a "wreck," however, she is hardly worth a mention - being little more than a small open hull with no superstructure or other interesting features.
As a night dive, she is entirely different and becomes transformed into an outstanding site. Her dimensions are approximately 30m x 6m and she is covered in coral and soft coral with a pair of very large Giant Morays permanently in residence. Overall, the fish life is spectacular - especially the overwhelming number of Lionfish. Sadly, too many boats are dragging their anchors right through this delicate "wreck" and she is not likely to survive for much longer.
Cape Clear. British Freighter of 5,085 tons lost after a collision with the Henry Dearborn (US) in Suez on 21 August 1944. Due to war-time restrictions in force at the time, little information was made available about this wreck. She is, however, located at Lat. 28 21 N Long. 33 11.3E.
Carina. Incorrect name given to the shipwreck marked on Admiralty Chart 2375 at position 27 47' 45" N, 33 51' 22"E. This was a substantial sail & steam vessel circa 1870-1890 now found lying in shallow water on the northwest corner of the reef immediately north of Shag Rock at Shaab Ali. Wreckage is spread over a large area. The Bows and stern sections are particularly interesting and the cargo is reported to have included many tons of bricks. Any information on this wreck would be gratefully received.
Carlisle. HMS Carlisle escorted the Thistlegorms convoy into the Red Sea in 1941 and later rescued survivors from that ship after it was bombed. Later in WW2 HMS Carlisle was lost in the Mediterranean. It is claimed that a new shipwreck which is being called the "Carlisle" has been found somewhere north of the Thistlegorm. If so, it is likely she has been given the wrong name.
Colona IV. One of the first Safari Boats to operate in the Red Sea. Apparently, lost in a storm in 1995 and now resides at a depth of 70m just off Hurghada. Dora Oldendorf. Former name of the Chrisoula K.
El Mina. Along with the Excalibur, this comprises one of the "Twin Wrecks" of Hurghada. "El Mina" is derived from the Egyptian word meaning "the harbour" and is now the adopted name of this ship. A substantial vessel, she is widely thought to have been a casualty of the 6 Day War when she was sunk by enemy aircraft whilst at anchor.
El Mina was a small Minesweeper. She lies squarely on her port side in 30m close to the shore at Hurghada with marker buoys permanently fixed to one of her twin propellers. The vessel is completely intact with all but the main forward deck gun still in place. The damage sustained during the attack is clearly visible on the upper starboard side near the Bows. Paravanes and cables are easily found. This is a very interesting dive and an excellent finish to the Safari on return to Hurghada.
Excalibur. Little is known about the cause of sinking when this Charter Yacht sank at her mooring very close to the El Mina. The currents can be very strong here and some Divers prefer to drift past both vessels in a single dive - hence the name of "Twin Wrecks." A classic vessel in her day, there remains much to see and explore before all the woodwork finally succumbs to the inevitable ravages of the sea.
Jasmine - a very small boat thought to be from the early 1900s and found on the Ashrafi Islands.
Jolanda. A Cypriot Freighter of 1,153 grt which struck a reef near Rs Mohammed at position 27 43 24" N, 34 15 36" E on 1 April 1980. Some time later, the vessel slipped off the Reef and now resides in over 100m of water. Today the Reef is known as "Yolanda Reef" - named after the wreck, but spelt incorrectly. Some containers, cargo and deck hatches from the vessel, are still found above the reef.
Lara. Cypriot freighter of 4,752 grt built in Germany and launched in 1956. In November 1982 the Lara drove hard onto Jackson Reef in the Straits of Tiran at position 28 00 43" N, 34 28 26" E where she remains visible to this day. It was alleged that the accident was an insurance fraud after it was discovered that there was only sufficient fuel on board to reach the reef on which she foundered. Curiously, somebody also remained on board the stricken vessel until 1985 giving rise to further allegations in connection with drug trafficking. The ship was subsequently stripped to a bare metal frame by salvors.
Lentil Wreck. Local name given to the Kimon M on account of her cargo.
Louilla Common incorrect spelling of Loullia.
Loullia. Panamanian freighter of 2,271 grt built in Sweden and launched in May 1952. Her dimensions were 107.55m x 14.36m with a draught of 8.49m. On a voyage from Aqaba to Suez in ballast, the Loullia ran hard onto Gordon Reef in the Straits of Tiran on 29 September 1981. The crew safely abandoned ship four days later and the vessel is still found on top of the reef at position 27 59 30" N, 34 27 12" E.
Markos. Former name of the Giannis D. Sometimes wrongly called Marcus.
Oil Rig. Sometimes called "Oil Rig Assembly," this is a shallow dive - north of Bluff Point on Gobal Sheghir. This Oil Rig unit was lost whilst being towed either to or from the Ashrafi Oilfields and is now protruding from the Sea. Plenty of marine life.
Olden. Various articles and books have wrongly attributed this name to both the Chrisoula K and Kimon M. The Olden was a 27,288 tonne Bulk Carrier. Loaded with Barley, she struck a Reef in the north Egyptian Red Sea and on 2 February 1987 she sank at lat. 27 31.2 N, long. 34 17.1 E - approximately 14 miles due east of Shadwan Island in over 1000m of water.
Poliagos. Cypriot vessel of 3,371 tonnes carrying 5,000 tons of cement which struck Shadwan on 28 December 1980 - while avoiding another vessel. This is thought to be the wreck marked on the north side of Shadwan island (Admiralty Chart 2375).
Safir. Panamanian freighter of 8,932 grt built by Austin & Pickersgill of Sunderland and launched in January 1973. Her dimensions were 141m x 20.48m with a draught of 8.86m. Loaded with 14,700 tons of rock phosphate at the Jordanian port of Aqaba, the Safir struck a reef near Tiran Island on 12 September 1989 - at position 27 59 12" N, 34 26" 12"E. Salvage operations were commenced and the ship was refloated. On 18 September, however, the Safir finally sunk at position 27 47 00" N, 34 24" 18"E in over 1000m of water. There were no casualties
Sarah H. This was the name given to the Kingston when the vessel was first discovered. In the absence of any formal identification the wreck was named after the Dive Guide Sarah Hillel. Seastar. Wrong name given to the Kimon M. Rumours of another "Seastar" having been lost on Gobal Sheghir exist but no evidence is yet forthcoming.
Shillong. P & O passenger-cargo ship of 8,934 grt built by Vickers Armstrong of Newcastle and launched in March 1949. On 22 October 1957, the Shillong (Hamburg for Tsingtao with a general cargo of 11,700 tons and 6 passengers) was steaming down the Gulf of Suez when she was struck amidships on the port side by the motor tanker Purfina Congo. Two members of Crew were lost and a third died later. This is the vessel marked at position 28 16 33" N, 33 13 50" E.
Siris. A Liberian Tanker of 30,000 tonnes in ballast, lost on 26th October 1973 after hitting a Mine on the Ashrafi Islands. At 29,592 gross registered tonnes, this is the largest shipwreck in the Red Sea.
Somaya II. An abject lesson in how "not" to moor your Boat. The popular story surrounding the loss of this former Dive Charter Boat alleges that the Skipper placed his vessel on the leeward side of Shaab Shear and ran out two mooring lines to the Reef (as you do). He did not, however, place a third line astern and when the wind changed his boat was on the Reef. There is not much to see with all the superstructure and engines having been removed. A popular mooring site and the vessel has something to offer in terms of a night dive. Being wooden, she will not last very long.
Star of Rawiah. One of 5 ships lost on the Ashrafi Islands, and thought to be the wreck at position 27 48 00" N, 33 40 16" E. A Saudi Arabian freighter launched in 1943 displacing 778 grt. On a voyage from Suez to Safaga in ballast, she ran aground on April 6 1972 and was abandoned as a constructive total loss.
Tamara II. One of 5 ships lost on the Ashrafi Islands, and thought to be the wreck at position 27 49 12" N, 33 38 24" E. A Panamanian Freighter lost in 1983.
Tamim 1. This Egyptian tanker of 971 grt was loaded with 900 tons of bitumen oil when she was abandoned after a fire broke out. She finally sank on October 1983 near the Ashrafi Islands. Her Master was killed.
Tienstin - the Tugboat at Abu Galawa. Much speculation exists as to why a Harbour Tugboat came to be here in the first place. I can find no details of this vessel except for her name in a small diving publication which may or may not be accurate. Tugboats are used extensively by the Egyptian Oil Industry and perhaps this one went to the aid of an incapacitated vessel - only to become lost herself on the treacherous Reefs here.
This is a fabulous little shipwreck. The Bows are wedged firmly into a shallow Reef ledge and the stern stretches back to a sandy seabed at 18m creating a space where it is quite possible to swim under the hull. The tugboat lists slightly to starboard and the entire port hull is covered in an incredible garden of hard corals. From the foredeck, the diver can drop down into an open hold and swim underneath the Bridge into the Engine Room. The engine is completely intact and there are brass portholes still in place. Above the engine is an exit and from here the Diver can explore the typically rounded stern. Propeller and Rudder are partly embedded in the sand. At the Reef - on the port side, the anchor is embedded in the sand with the chain running all the way up to the hawse-pipe. An outstanding night Dive.
Tile Wreck. Local name given to the Chrisoula K on account of her cargo.
The Tugboat at Sharm el Sheikh. A 30m Fire-fighting Harbour tugboat in 18m within an area of the harbour called Sharm el Moiya.
The wreck is intact and attracts some interesting marine life. Wine Wreck. Local name given to the Carnatic on account of part of her cargo. Wood Wreck. Local name given to the Giannis D on account of her cargo.
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Last Updated: May 29th, 2011