In addition to my main occupation of underwater photo-journalist and author,
I am also a shipwreck historian. As such, my studies take me to all corners of the globe where
any of the world’s most outstanding “diveable” shipwrecks may be found.
Indeed, for every hour I spend underwater, I easily spend hundreds of hours in dedicated
research. As I am so fond of saying, the only way to produce a definitive account of any
wrecked ship is through research, research and yet more research. But that is not any easy task!
Not even in the UK, for example, are the many details pertaining to any single ship, naval battle,
tragedy or other aspect of maritime history found within a single book, museum, library or other
So complicated is the overall process that I am frequently discovering new avenues for
research that were previously unknown to me.
For me, there are three elements to every shipwrecks story. Firstly, there are the
historic details of the ship itself - when and where built, size, type, machinery
and so forth. Then there is that all-important account of how the vessel came to
be lost. Finally, there is the equally important description of what the vessel
is like, today, underwater.
As one might expect, I frequently found myself comparing Egypt's shipwrecks to other
well known shipwreck diving locations and, over considerable time, I reached the
conclusion there is no comparison. Certainly, Truk Lagoon, Bikini Atoll, the Caribbean
and even the Mediterranean all come to mind, but consider this; One single story
explains how the shipwrecks in Truk Lagoon came to be there. That event was Operation
Hailstone - the codename for the attack by US Forces which resulted in the sinking
of over 40 Japanese ships over two days in 1944. Unlike Egypt, Truk Lagoon has no
shipwrecks from as early as 1869 or as recent as 1996. The same general comment
also apples to those vessels sunk at Bikini Atoll which were all part of those post-WW2
atomic bomb experiments. Elsewhere, there is no single country in either the Caribbean
on one side of the Atlantic Ocean, or the Mediterranean on the other, which can
boast a collection of shipwrecks to compete with those found in the Egyptian sector
of the Red Sea.
Weather permitting, it is quite possible to visit all the major shipwrecks described
on this site during a three-week dedicated safari. By comparison, one would have
to visit almost every island in the Caribbean or several countries in the Mediterranean
to find anything of similar value. On top of all that, each individual wreck offers
the diver a significant brush with maritime history.
At first, divers were, generally speaking, happy to visit the various wrecks and
note whatever differences existed. As Egypt became ever more popular, however, so
the individual diver’s requirements for information about each specific vessel became
more and more demanding and the European diving press responded with ever-increasing
articles on specific wrecks. It has to be said that, in the rush to produce “something”
about the newly discovered SS Whatever, many accounts were hopelessly inaccurate.
Of course, having been published, those inaccurate details were then repeated by
others who restricted their own research to what somebody else had written. At one
point things became so bad that, in recent years, one British diving magazine actually
published a full account of a shipwreck that simply does not even exist!
Suffice to say, the details of each wreck contained within this site have been checked,
double-checked and even treble-checked against the finest authoritative documents
and bodies available. In short, the details are as accurate as it is humanly possible
to produce and, for those divers who like to add details of each wreck into their
own personal log-book, these are details you may trust.
With so much to offer the dedicated wreck diver - in addition to a welcoming climate
and warm, clear water, it is easy to understand why Egypt’s incredible ships’ graveyard
attracts so many scuba-diving tourists back year after year.
The laws of Egypt
It is against the law to remove any artefact from any shipwreck found within Egyptian
territorial waters. Whilst I am not aware of any prosecutions having ever occurred,
such prosecutions have taken place in other countries without any detrimental effect
on the local tourist trade.
Shipwrecks are, by their very nature, deteriorating assets. Any additional deliberate
decline by those who seek to remove parts of these vessels will eventually lead
to the requirement of legal action having to be taken by the Egyptian authorities.
Because the laws of protection are already in place, I firmly believe the first
prosecutions will come as a great surprise to those who are charged!
A word about Safety
I do not subscribe to the view that dives may be graded according to each individual
diver’s qualifications. All experience is relative. It is not, therefore, for me
(or anyone else) to state which diver should or should not visit this wreck or that
wreck. We have no means of comparing experience and ability with the requirements
of any dive, which in any event, might be significantly changed by adverse weather
conditions or the deteriorating state of the vessel itself.
My task is to inform the reader about Egypt's outstanding shipwrecks. In so doing,
I wish to report the facts surrounding each lost ship and that is all I seek to
do. It is for each reader to seek separate advice with regard to their own diving
experience and the suitability of any particular scuba diving visit to any of those
Shipwrecks are made of steel and wood - commodities which continue to deteriorate
in sea water until eventually nothing will be left. They are structures which will
have been damaged and, therefore, weakened, at the time of sinking. Furthermore,
they are very heavy and prone to collapse at any time. This is especially so for
those which lie on their side, if only because no ship was ever designed to withstand
its own weight in such circumstances.
Any of the shipwrecks described in this site may have become unsafe since I last
visited the vessel in question. All divers are strongly advised, therefore, to seek
up-to-date advice with regard to the current condition of any vessel they intend
to visit. Be warned - shipwrecks can be dangerous places and should always be approached
with great caution.
Having said all that, Egypt is most fortunate to be able to provide one of the finest
collections of shipwrecks in the world - do enjoy.
Ned Middleton is an award-winning, best selling author. For more
information about this and other shipwrecks found within the Egyptian sector of
the Red Sea, his book “Shipwrecks from the Egyptian Red Sea” (ISBN 1898162719 and
1905492162) is readily available. This book was declared “Underwater Publication
of the Year” for 2007.