DICTIONARY OF EGYPTIAN SHIPWRECKS-B

 

 

M.V BAKR

A 416 ton survey vessel, 49mtrs long she Built in Kiev  by Leninskaya Kuznitza 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.

 

In march 2006 the wreck was discovered sitting upright on a sandy seabed just of the headland at Ras Gaharib, in 12 mtrs of water by the Author and members of Brighton SAC. 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.

Identification of the wreck was made easy by the embossed name on her stern and her bow. Her booms are still in an outward position as if she was towing arrays at the time of her sinking. All around the wreck are the day to day artefacts of the working life of a survey vessel. Winches cable drums , generators and fittings

 

The bow is an impressive sight, bathed in strong sunlight in only a few mtrs of water, her anchor winch still in place. It would appear that the wreck has been swept to the waterline,

 

WRECK OF THE BARGE

 

There seems to be little or no history available about this scattered hulk of metal pieces that once was a barge, lyng in 12mtrs. In the early nineties the hull was intact, with substantial framework along its length, and the barge was a photographers paradise. Soft corals hung every where and the hull was full of shoaling fish. Then a guide book was published advising “you can tie into the wreck” and they did (and still try to)

 

Today the site is nothing more than an outline of keel ribs and scattered metal covering an area of 30 mtrs x 10mtrs. You can “once over it” in a couple of minutes, or you can “linger and glide”. It is the residents that still make this a very special site- especially if you are a photographer, bug hunter fish watcher or just love the Red sea.

 

The eco system of the wreck and its surrounding area is quite remarkable. Every aspect of the wreckage seems to have become real estate from encrusting sponge corals and crustaceans to morays, squid, cuttlefish, crocodile fish stonefish and even the odd dolphin for good measure. As a night dive the site really does come alive, with anemone carriers torpedo rays octopus and snowflake morays adding to the daytime cast. The metal work becomes decorated with feather stars and coal polyps. It all sometimes becomes infested with grouped divers-sometimes 12 students to one “master”. Often twin flashing emergency strobes shatter the serenity of the site, strobes often accompanied by the gaudy suit brigade. TIMING IS EVERYTHING!

 

IBN BATAOTA

Built in 1973, a general cargo vessel of 4932 tons  carrying a cargo of 5900 tons of silica sand, sank after a collision with the OXL SULTAN 24/3/09 while 35 miles out from Safaga, bound for the  UAE.

 

WRECK OF THE MV BELINA (UNCONFIRMED)

There is little official historical evidence to confirm the name of this wreck or indeed its history. One local guide insists it’s a sailing ship-with a propeller???? It would appear to be a small coastal trader. A small cargo boat, abandoned, sank  in 8 mtrs. about 40 mtrs long, upright, diesel engine, single screw.

Judging from the coral growths its been there for some time. I have found no registration for the vessel, but would assume that it is Egyptian.

 

The wreck is totally accessible, and due to the sandy bottom suffers from reduced  visibility, but attracts a large number of fish, including a large school of juvenile barracuda, snapper. Box fish, snowflake morays, giant groupers.

 

The holds can easily be explored in only 8 mtrs. The engine room is located in the stern. The wreck is Skeletal, other than its intact hull and all windows are framed with soft corals

The superstructure has been cleared to water level. The prop and rudder are still in place and the  bow is quite impressive and sits on top of a small wooden charter boat. The deck is in 4 mtrs, and the wreck can be viewed from the surface. The wreck also has some good invertebrate life, including nudibranchs and shrimps. There are some good swim throughs at all levels.

 

Despite the lack of history, depth and visibility, the wreck has great potential as a check dive(for small groups) those interested in invertebrate life and photography. It is also an excellent night dive. Situated in a sheltered area and calm water, it has surmised many a sceptical diver.

M.V.BACCHIS.

This 270 ft Cyprian vessel was carrying a cargo of cement from Greece to Saudi Arabia when she was holed, striking the Ashrafi reefs in bad visibility. The cargo solidified and her engine room flooded. She was abandoned as a total constructive loss and later slipped into deeper water. Now known to have sunk at the northern end off SHA’AB MUKOWARAT AT 27 49 18N 33 39 18 E on August 9th 1977.2494 ton, 97m long 14.4 m beam, diesel engines. Belonging to the Bacchus Shipping CO. she was built in 1950 at Bremerhaven

S,.S BELMORE

 

The “Belmore,” Official Number 115720, was a steel screw steam yacht used for towing purposes, formerly named the “Flying Scout,” built at South Shields in the year 1902 by Messrs. J. P. Rennoldson & Sons, South Shields, and was of the following dimensions:—Length 106 feet, breadth 22 feet, and depth in hold 9.3 feet, and was 168.29 gross, and 3.04 registered tonnage. She was fitted with compound direct acting inverted cylinders of 98 n.h.p., her estimated speed being 12 knots, and was owned by Mr. James Fenwick, of Sydney, New South Wales,

The “Belmore” was on the voyage to Malta in good and seaworthy condition as regards hull and equipments. She was surveyed and passed by the Board of Trade surveyor at Greenock before leaving that port, which she left on the 30th of May, 1908, bound for Sydney, New South Wales, with a crew of 12 hands all told (and no passengers), under the command of Mr. Charles Murchie, who held a certificate of competency as master, No. 09867……………………………………………………………………………

“On the voyage to Port Said she appeared very tender, causing her to ship water which saturated the coal stowed in bags and bulk on the after deck. She arrived at Port Said on the 16th of June last, and after coaling, according to the evidence, the vessel was much deeper than when leaving Malta. Her Plimsoll mark was submerged and the water up to the top of the belting, but there is no evidence given as to how this extra immersion was caused.

The “Belmore” left Port Said at or about 5.30 a.m. of the 17th June last, and proceeded through the canal into the Gulf of Suez, with fine weather. About 10 p.m. the wind was about two points on the port quarter, and increasing with a rising sea. At midnight the watch commenced to put coal off the deck into the stokehold. This was continued until after 2 a.m. of the 18th, when Ras Gharib light was sighted. Shortly after sighting the light, the second mate, Mr. Robertson, who was in charge and steering the vessel, called Gray, one of the watch, to relieve him. He then went down below as directed, to let the master know that he had sighted Ras Gharib light and how it bore, and while he and the master were examining the chart, a sea came in over the port quarter, giving her a list to port, and as the vessel did not recover, thinking something was wrong, he made for the deck, followed by the master, and finding her on her beam ends and going further over, he and the master got over the rail on to the side of the vessel, and finally reached the keel as she turned bottom up, giving no time to provide themselves with life-saving appliances. The majority of the crew went down with the ship. The captain was last seen standing on her bottom near the keel. The rest, five in number, succeeded in swimming to the coal box, which floated away from the vessel as she sank. They held on to the box for about 1 1/2 hours, when it broke up and each secured a plank, by which means four of them eventually reached the shore in safety at some distance from the lighthouse. The fifth was caught by a shark while efforts were being made to save him by those on the beach. The mutilated body was afterwards recovered and buried. “

 

S.S.BENGALI

Built in 1901 as MONTGOMERYSHIRE by Gourlay Bros. & Co. at Dundee, the Bengali was a steam cargo ship of 5,665grt, 445ft in length, beam of 50ft 2in and a cruising speed of 11 knots. Sistership of the GLAMORGANSHIRE. She was delivered to T & J Brocklebank as the BENGALI and transferred to Shire Line in 1906. In July 1911 she was chartered to Royal Mail for service in the Far East but reverted to Brocklebank’s and BENGALI in 1912. On 13th September 1917 she was torpedoed 115 miles north of Derna in North Africa and four days later was beached, patched up and managed to reach Alexandria where she was repaired. On 8th April 1918 during her second voyage after being repaired and bound for Calcutta in ballast she was torpedoed and sunk by UC-34 14 miles off Alexandria at 31.21N/29.47E in 70-85 meters of water.
S.S.BERT WILLIAMS

Built in 1944, the Bert Williams was a 717 ton steamship. Her final voyage started at Freemantle bound for Copenhagen. On the 10th April 1948 she ran aground off Quessir, in the Red Sea. The vessel was then taken in tow bound for Italy, but after clearing the Suez Canal, it was decided to head for Alexandria in an attempt to save the vessel from breaking up. The stern section broke off and later drifted ashore at Marsa   Matruth, close to Rommels secret lair. The vessel was systematically salvaged by locals and only her keel plates and part of her engine block remained when we were shown the wreck-billed as a “World War 2 wreck of El AL Amain”. Clear water, no fish life, but good sunlight-worthy only of snorkelling!

M.V.BIRCHWOOD 11

 

With its hull breaking the surface, the Birchwood 2 lies in a sheltered bay at Ras Shukier. With a maximum depth of only 12 mtrs it offers a great introduction to wreck diving, but also has great potential for photography and supports a unique eco system.

Lying to the north of the port in a large bay with three other wrecks was a small 50 mtrs motor cargo ship  on its starboard side in 12mtrs 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.

Just forward of the Superstructure, itself at the aft of the vessel was an intact crane, obviously used to serve the hold. The criss-cross 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.

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. Superb back drops for the expedition photo scrapbook.

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 3 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.

 

Over the years some illegal salvage has caused the wheel house to collapse and sections of the hull have been removed, presumably for scrap. However the wreck still remains a great dive-shallow yet plenty to sea and explore with the added bonus of keeping the bug hunters happy. Very happy.

 I.T.S.BASILICATA

An Italian light cruiser of 2480 tons, built in 1914at the Castellamare Dockyard, the Basilicata was sunk after a boiler exploded in the entrance to the Suez Canal at Port Suez on August 13th 1919.Mnay of the 250 crew were badly injured. The vessel was quickly moved after 3 days ,as its position blocked the busy shipping lanes. She was refloated the following year.

 

S.S.BARBARY

The Barbary was a steam cargo ship of 4185 GRT built at Richardson, Duck & Co., Stockton (Yard No. 522) for D. McIver, Sons & Co., Ltd., Liverpool. She was launched on 05 April 1901, completed the following month, with a length of 112.8 meters, 14.7 meters in beam, and a single propeller.

At some point during WWI the ship was requisitioned for use by the Royal Navy and was defensively armed (armament unknown). On 11 December 1917, the Barbary was torpedoed by the German submarine UC-34 (Horst Obermuller) and sank 56-miles Northwest-by-North of Port Said. 3 lives reported lost, including the Master
HMS BARHAM

 

THE LOSS OF HMS BARHAM
In 1914 the Battleship Barham, Capt. G.C. Cooke, was the flagship of Vice-Admiral H.O. Pridham-Whippell, commanding the Eastern Mediterranean. On Novermber 25th, 1941, at about 4:25pm, the battle-squadron consisting of Barham, Queen Elisabeth and Valiant was carrying out exercises off the Egyptian coast.

The force had left Alexandria to cover an air-operation against an Italian convoy. The vessels were in the act of altering course together, the speed being 17 knots, when a submarine U-331managed to penetrate the destoyer screen and press home her attack.

The U-331was sighted from Valiant at a distance of 700 yards. She fired three torpedoes at Barham, all of which appeared to strike. The battleship rolled over on her side and sank in five minutes, her magazines causing an enormous explosion as she went down.

Only about 300 were saved, including the Admiral. Those lost numbered 56 officers, incl. The Captain, 658 ratings and 134 mariners, a total of 848. Many men had scrambled on the upturned hull as she ´turned turtle´. The Valiant made an unsuccessful attempt to ram the submarine.

S.S. BAYNESK

Launched 01 January 1906 and completed in February 1906 as the Glenesk. Built by Doxford at Pallion Yard No. 352 as a turret style cargo ship of 3,286 GRT for the Glenesk Steamship Co., Ltd. (Milburn, Lund), Whitby.

Sunk on 09 January, 1917 by torpedo attack by German submarine U39 (Walter Forstmann) approximately 130 miles North by West from Alexandria with 7 lives lost

 

 

S.S. BILSWOOD

The Bilswood was a cargo steamer of 3,097 tons constructed 1915 at the Ropner & Sons, Ltd., Yard (No. 501), Stockton, for J. Constantine, Middlesbrough. Launched 30 April 1915 and completed in June of that same year. The ship was 102.1 meters LPP and 14.6 meters in beam and was defensively armed.

While in transit on the Hull via Malta-Alexandria route, the ship was mined on 12 March 1917 eight miles Nortwest of Alexandria by mines laid by U-73 (Gustav Siess)

M.V.BINTANG

The M/V Bintang was launched 19 November 1921 and completed in 22 May 1922 at the Nakskov Skibsvaerft A/S, Nakskov Yard No. 4 in Denmark. Owned by MOWT, she was 2779 GRT, 86.8 meters LPP, 13.5 meters in beam with 2 diesels and a cruising speed of 10 knots.

Lost during an air raid on 22 February 1942 at 31.50N/26.01E.

 

S.S.BUSIRIS

The SS Busiris was a British Merchant Cargo Steamer of 2,720 tons built in 1904 by John Blumer & Co., Sunderland and owned by the Moss Steamship Co. Ltd., Liverpool. While on a voyage from Alexandria to Liverpool carrying general cargo, she was captured and sunk by German submarine U39 at 32.50N/26.20E

M.V.BILAL

A lebenese motor ship built in 1957, 1591 tons, 82 mtrs long, the Bilal was taking  315 tons of Calcium Carbide in drums  and an addition 1055 tons of general cargo from Constantza to Dammam  on the 16th Jan 1976 when she struck a rocky breakwater near Port Said. Refusing assistance she remained fast for two days until an explosion occurred in no. 2 hold .Fire spread through the vessel and the crew abandoned ship. She sank with her bow still wedged into the jetty.

 

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