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Built at Glasgow by W. Hamilton & Co, the Maidan was launched in March 1902 .At 8,205 tons, and 500 long, 58 x 32 ft 747 nhp, she was one of the biggest ships of her day. Her early career saw her operating as a passenger/ cargo ship between Europe and the far east. In 1914, at the outbreak of war she was engaged in troop transport, notably the  “Liverpool Scottish Regiment” and the “Queens Westmister Rifles”  In 1919, she underwent   a major refit, and a new 4-cylinder quadruple expansion engine, built by D. Rowan of Glasgow gave her a speed of 14knots.   The Maidan was owned by T & J Brocklebank based in Liverpool.


In April 1923 the Maiden was  in Calcutta having discharged her cargo and reloading with another. Heading back towards Europe her progress found her in Ceylon towards the end of May and Bombay by early June. A short stop was made in Port Sudan, where she rebunkered and took on additional cargo before setting course for Suez  through the  Red Sea. It was the intention of her captain to sail within sight of Zabagad (then St. Johns island) to make an accurate fix. However over the next 140 miles the Maiden was to slowly drift off course, and by late afternoon she was  some 3 miles west of her course. By the early hours of the next day, the 10th, Zabagad was sighted dead ahead on the horizon. The calm waters hiding the tell tale surf of a low lying island dead ahead, Its sandy colour blending in with that of the  higher island  behind and the poor or little  light  adding to the danger ahead. By the time the Captain and second officer had discussed who was to blame shallow water was sighted ahead.

Despite evasive action the Maiden grounded onto the  south west side of the island, grinding her keel into the jagged reef in the early hours of the 10th June 1923 By midday the 100 crew and passengers had safely made  it ashore, to be later picked up by a passing ship the Warwickshire. 12 hours after her grounding the Maiden slipped back and tumbled down the reef into the deep waters of Rocky Island


One of the main targets of the early BSAC expeditions to Southern Egypt was the Maiden. She was well documented but not located. Our first visits to Rocky Island failed to come up with any results and we resigned ourselves to the fact that she must be beyond sport diving limits. We also surveyed Zabagad where we found two lifeboats lying on a beach-excitement gathered- they were English pump action type- were they from the Maiden? On our return from examining the lifeboats we discovered a small coastal vessel near the shore-but the lifeboats were two big for her cradles-where were they from. There was no record of the Maidens crew rowing to Zabagad was there another wreck waiting to be found? (cf TAIWAN) .It was to be another 8 years before we were to solve the mystery



The hull of the wreck, starting at 80 mtrs is covered in superb corals and reef fishes. A Nikon RSAF, the only SLR able to withstand these pressures were used to capture these unique images.


JUNE 6TH 2003. Tipped off by a report by the DM of Excel, Grant SEARANCKE, I organised a deep air dive to identify some wreckage at the base of the reef on the south side of Rocky. My buddy was to be none other than Mr John Womack, of Otter Dry suit fame, and no stranger to wreck discoveries himself, and Tom Fruhenhimer, Germany’s answer to John Cleese. Our plunge down the reef face to 65mtrs found the tell tale sign that we were right on target. Hawse wires stretched across the reef base and out beyond lay huge  I –beams cross members from a ships hold of immense size some 50ft across. Several lay strewn on the sea bed and a huge mast ran out into the shadowy gloom-and the shadow of a vessel beyond.With bottom time over in minutes we left with a certainty we had found the Maidan- no other vessel could fit these dimensions


In October 2003 Grant Searancke made several solo dives armed with the information we had uncovered. At a depth of 80 mtrs Grant found the main body of the wreck, her stern upright with her hull sloping into deeper water the bow hanging over a precipice the general depth of the wreck being in 100mtrs.Grants friend, Kimo Hagman joined Grant in a deep exploratory dive, taking some detailed photographs. He reported that the bridge and companionways had collapsed.

Some reports suggested that the wreck was not where we had claimed it was where we had claimed after the initial discovery.   It was not until late 2004 an opportunity presented itself to return to Rocky to dive the wreck again. However after descending the wall we were able to locate the wreck directly out from the debris field .It would appear from the debris trail and the position of the wreck that she has struck the reef side on  then tumbled down the reef to the base in 100mtrs, her bow now sticking out into the blue overhanging a sheer wall-upside down in 120 mtrs. Impacting with a large rock on the way. The stern section sits upright while the main body of the wreck lies over on her port side. The wreck is huge and ranks alongside the Numidia as one of the largest steamships to have sunk in the Red Sea. Her engine room, still complete with its 4-cylinder quadruple expansion engine can be entered bared open by a huge gape in the hull but at these great depths requires technical skills beyond sport diving.

With the main section of the ship torn from the bow and stern, the huge tears in her hull forward and aft have caused her cargo to spill out onto the seabed and also allowing access into her vast holds. The forward hold is full of jute gunnies-hessian sacks tied in bundles, and deeper down into the wreck are what appear to be the remains of bags of cement.

The decks now vertical still bear all the usual fittings; winches, hatch covers ventilation tubes, mooring cleats and mast bases. A spare propeller still remains bolted onto the stern castle.

Although some of the wreck has collapsed due to the journey to her final resting place, many of the handrails and fittings, are adorned with corals, sponges and deep-water hard coral species. The bridge would appear to have separated from the main body of the wreck, along with her tall straight funnel. There is a large debris field and scattered around are winches, ventilation cowls, hatch covers, hawse wires and mast sections. There are many hatchways enticing the unwary and many more dives must be carried out before her attitude is fully understood

The wreck is covered in a very healthy growth of soft corals as vibrant as a reef in shallow water, with the deep water white whip corals everywhere.


Located by rebreather diver Andy Abery, the bell was raised by Grant, after he had witnessed a group of Italian divers pillaging the wreck of the Zealot on Daedalus. Fearing they would target the Maidan next the bell was cleaned, photographed and it is hoped it will find its pride of place in the Liverpool-Scottish Museum. A fitting memorial to a great ship and the brave men who lost their lives in the Great war. The current location of the bell is unknown to the author




A British Steamship built at W Gray & Co Ltd Hartlepool in 1952 for Maldives Investments (London Ltd) she was 429ft long 56 ft beem,36 ft draught., 4097 tons

The Maldive Transport left Bangkok with 2605 tons of raw jute for Safaga and 1000tons of maize for Aquaba Jordan. On the 29th April 1972 fire broke out in no. 3 hold and spread to the engine room and superstructure. The ship was beached and abandoned 3 miles south of Safaga. The vessel then drifted 2miles further south  coming ashore again completely gutted



A Lebenese steamship, built in 1944 at the  New England Ship Buidling Co Portland Maine, the 7452 ton, 441ft left Shanghai on her last voyage with a cargo of sewing machines,,600tons of tea and 9000 tons of maize.in March 1966. On the 18th she approached Alexandria harbour in a violent storm with winds of over 45mph, and was pounded against the   east harbour breakwater. With her hull breached she flooded and continued to be pounded by waves and the breakwater, finally breaking in two on the 20th. Remains of the wreck can be found strewn in the rocks and at depths down to 25 mtrs in two halves.


The Maridive XII was an offshore tugboat of 844 or 949 Grt. originally guilt as the Angel Fish at Sud-Quest in Bordeaux, France. The tugboat was launched on 21 April 1982 and had a length of 53.6 meters and a beam of 11.5 meters. Twin screws provided propulsion. The tugboat was purchased by the Maridive Corporation in 1985 and renamed Maridive XII and used as an offshore supply vessel.

On 10 October 1999, during bad weather, the Maridive XII foundered between Port Said and the Baltim off shore oil field. The Master and 2 crew were lost. Some reports list the vessel as being lost 7 km from Baltim.



A British Naval depot ship, built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow In Furness in 1928. She was 580 ft long, 85 ft beam, 14,650 tons armed with  two 4 “ guns, four 4” A.A. guns and 12 other smaller arms, she  was the first large submarine depot ship designed and built for the Royal Navy. She was  commissioned at Devonport on 6 Jul, 1929. The ship sailed for China station together with six O-class submarines to replace the HMS Titania and her L-class boats, remaining there until April 1940, when she was sent to the Mediterranean, arriving on 2 May in Alexandria. She was based there to operate the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

HMS Medway


A British Naval depot ship, built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow In Furness in 1928. She was 580 ft long, 85 ft beam, 14,650 tons armed with  two 4 “ guns, four 4” A.A. guns and 12 other smaller arms, she  was the first large submarine depot ship designed and built for the Royal Navy. She was  commissioned at Devonport on 6 Jul, 1929. The ship sailed for China station together with six O-class submarines to replace the HMS Titania and her L-class boats, remaining there until April 1940, when she was sent to the Mediterranean, arriving on 2 May in Alexandria. She was based there to operate the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

At 08.24 hours on 30 Jun, 1942, bound for Haifa and Beirut HMS Medway was torpedoed and sunk by U-372. commanded by Heinz-Joachim Neumann off Alexandria. Capt P. Ruck Keene, commander of the 1st Submarine flotilla was on board. There were 30dead and 1135 survivors. She was  escorted by the HMS Dido and seven destroyers.  but 47 of her stock of 90 torpedoes floated clear and were recovered. The small depot ship HMS Talbot moved from Malta to replace her at Beirut, changing her name to HMS Medway II.1135 (30 dead and 1105 survivors). Sunk by U-372

As a result of the sinking of the HMS Medway, Allied submarine operations in the eastern Mediterranean came to a standstill as a result of the loss of her facilities, which included 114 spare torpedoes and spare submarine equipment and repair parts.



A Greek motor vessel built in1948, she was 1256 tons,72 mtrs long and on a voyage from Chalkis Greese to El Wej, Saudi Arabia with 1900 tons of cement on March 5 1978, when she sank 15 miles  north east of Port Said, after an explosion in her engine room. The crew of 9 were all rescued. 31 37n 32 34e


HMS Papua is one of the lesser known vessels of the Royal Navy. Her active life covered a period of less than one year and her greatest claim to fame was to share the sinking of a U-boat in the Atlantic. Papua-New Guinea member R.A. Ruegg has written this story because so little is known of the vessel and not one photograph has been found despite a wide search.

HMS Papua was built and engined by the Walsh Kaiser Company of Providence, Rhode Island. USA. She started life as the United States Ship Howett (PF.84). The following were her basic particulars:

Laid down: 7 September 1943

Launched: 10 October 1943

Completed: 26 July 1944

Length overall: 304 feet

Beam: 37 feet 6 inches

Draught: 12 feet

Displacement: 1,436 tons (2,280 tons full load).


3 x 3in. (50 cal.) HA/LA single-mounted guns

4 x 40mm Bofors AA on twin mounting

4 x 20mm Oerlikon AA on single mounts

2 rails and 4 Depth Charge Throwers (DCT)

64 depth charges carried

1 x ATW Hedgehog

Engines: 2 shaft reciprocating VTE, HP – 5,500, giving 18 knots full speed

Complement: 120 (as a Western Approaches Escort Vessel)

Pennant Number: K.588

With 20 other ships of her class (the ‘Colony’ Class), she was allocated to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease. She commenced her service in the Western Atlantic on escort duties between St. Johns, Newfoundland, and Bermuda. On 10 October 1944 she left St. Johns for the United Kingdom, arriving on the Clyde on 29 October 1944.

For a time she was not allocated to any specific flotilla, and was engaged upon local defence and escort duties out of the Clyde. In December 1944 Papua served for a short while with the 20th Escort Group, based on Londonderry, then she joined the newly formed 23rd Escort Group which was also based on Londonderry. The 23rd Escort Group comprised: HM Ships Monserrat (Senior Officer), Barbados, Nyasaland, Papua, Loch Gorm and Loch Scàvaig.

On 4 February 1945 Papua, together with Nyasaland, joined Loch Scàvaig in attacking U 1014 which had been located by Loch Scàvaig at the entrance to Lough Foyle.  HMS Loch Shin from the 19th Escort Group to clean up the mess.

Later in February, Papua, together with other ships of the 23rd Escort Group, carried out anti-submarine patrols in the St. George’s Channel.

In May 1945 Papua was an escort to one of the convoys which sailed for the relief of Norway. On 3 June 1945 she left Oslo in company with HMS Monserrat, escorting six U-boats which had surrendered on their way to the United Kingdom.

Papua arrived at Lisahally, Northern Ireland, on 9 June 1945, and was placed in reserve. In April 1946, in company with HMS Tobago, she sailed for New York, arriving there on 30 April. On 13 May 1946 she was paid off and handed over to the United States Authorities at that port.

Papua was awarded the Battle Honour – Atlantic 1945.

In 1946 Papua was sold to Egypt and taken over by the Khedival Mail Line who renamed it SS Malrouk. Some years later it was acquired by the Egyptian Navy, rearmed and commissioned as Misr. The vessel sank after a collision in the Gulf of Suez on the night of 16/17th May 1953.


The Missir was a small steamship of 786 tons built in 1864 at Barclay Curie & Co. and operated by the Khedivial Mail Steam Ship & Graving Dock Co. The ship was 226.5 feet in length, 28 feet in beam, and 15.6 feet in draught. She had compound engines with 135 n.h.p. which provided a 9 knot cruising speed.

On 29 May 1918 the ship was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-51 (Ernst Krafft) approximately 80 miles North-by-West of Alexandria. 34 lives lost but the captain survived



MTB-261 was an Elco Type Torpedo Boat originally built by the Electric Launch Company Ltd. (Elco), Bayonne, New Jersey, USA, as the PT-12. Laid down 09 April 1940, launched 18 October 1940, and commissioned 12 November 1940, she was 32 Grt. and 70 feet long. In April 1941 the boat was transferred to the Royal Navy and renamed MTB-261.Participated in Operation Vigorous with MTB-259 in 1942. Destroyed 26 August 1945 after sinking in the Alexandria Harbour.



The Murcia was a steam cargo ship of 4,871 GRT built at Short Brothers Ltd., Yard No. 389, Sunderland, for English & American Sg Co., Ltd., (C.T. Bowring & Company / Red Cross Line), London. The ship was 117.3 meters in length and 16.3 meters in beam, with a single shaft. She was launched 11 March 1915 and completed on July of that same year.
On 02 November 1918 while carrying a cargo of rice and gunnies on the Bassein-Marseille route, the Murcia was sank by the German submarine UC-74 (Hans Schuler) approximately 12 miles north of Port Said.


The Murex was a 3,654 GRT bulk-oil tanker with quite an interesting history. She was built at W. Gray & Co., Ltd., West Hartlepool, London (Yard No. 442) for Marcus Samuel & Co. (Shell), London. The ship was launched 28 May 1892 and completed the following July with a length of 338 feet, beam of 43 feet, and a draught of 26 feet. Coal-fired boiler and a single shaft.

The Murex was designed by Fortescue Flannery and was the first of 8 ships ordered by Marcus Samuels. The ships were innovative for their time. They had 10 cargo tanks arranged in a 2-by-5 pattern placed amidships with an installed steam cleaning system for cleaning the tanks for other cargoes, cofferdams at each end of the cargo tanks which isolated them from the engineering spaces and the fore peak tank, baffles in the tanks to control free surface effect of the oil, expansion tanks on top of each tank to control expansion of the oil due changes of temperature, coal bunkers were placed on each side of the boiler room where they were convenient, lighting was exclusively electrical (vice lanterns), and loading and discharging was entirely by pumps (vice gravity flow). Modern oil tankers are still designed in basically the same manner. These innovations resulted in the Murex, and her sister ships which followed later, receiving Lloyds of London’s highest safety rating.

The reason that she was built in such a fashion was because Marcus Samuel and his brother, the sons of Marcus Samuel who ran a successful import/export business in London, realised the potential of the oil trade during a trip to the Black Sea and had to have ships which met the safety requirements of the Suez Canal Authority in order to transit through the Suez Canal. Standard Oil pretty much had the monopoly on supplying oil to the world but they too, were unable to transit the canal because their ships did not meet these requirements. Marcus Samuels ordered 8 vessels and decided to name them after sea shells, after his first business where he sold painted shells. And thus, Shell Transport and Trading Company began, being incorporated in 1892.

At that time, oil tankers were not allowed to transit through the Suez Canal for fear of ships catching fire or grounding in the canal. With the design of the Murex, Lloyd’s safety rating, and possibly a bit of coercion by the British government, the Suez Canal Authority granted Samuel’s right to passage through the canal. Samuels had leveraged his relationships and the Rothschild family, who had funded Britain’s purchase of the Suez Canal, and signed a 9-year supply contract for Samuel to sell kerosene to markets east of the Suez.

Upon completion of the Murex on 28 May 1892, under command of Captain John R. Coundon, set sail for Batum in the Black Sea where she onloaded a full cargo of Russian Kerosene. From there she made her way to south and on 24 August 1892 became the first oil tanker to transit the Suez Canal.

By being able to transit the Suez Canal, which Standard Oil could not do, Samuel effectively broke the monopoly that Standard Oil had enjoyed in the asian oil market. However, there was a near-fatal setback once Samuel’s kerosene reached Asia. Samuel had underpriced his product in the hopes that local buyers would be knocking his door down to buy his kerosene. His prices were good but the Asian consumers were used to Standard Oil’s blue tin containers, which were recycled and used for everything from bird cages and cooking pots, to patches for their tin roofs. Once Samuel grasped the problem, he sent a freighter of fresh tin to ports across Asia and instructed trading houses to use local labor to manufacture new containers. A nephew suggested that the new containers be painted red, which they were. As Stephen Howarth wrote in his book, “A Century of Oil”: “Within months, Oriental roofs, bird-cages and bedpans alike were changing from rusty blue to shiny red”.


By World War I, Shell Transport and Trading Co. had combined with the Royal Dutch company of the Netherlands to become Royal Dutch Shell. During WWI the Shell Oil ships contributed greatly to Britain’s war effort by providing oil to their war machine. In recognition of his contribution to the war effort, Marcus Samuel was made 1st Baron Bearsted of Maidstone in the County of Kent in the 1921 Birthday Honours.

The Murex , unfortunately, did not survive the war. On 21 December 1916, while sailing on the Mudros-Port Said route in ballast, she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-73 (Gustav Siess) approximately 94 miles Northwest of Port Said at position 32.20N/31.00E in over 1000 meters of water. 1 casualty reported.



Built in Bremen in 1956, the 2699 ton( 3100 gross)general cargo motor vessel, fitted with Man diesel engines was a German registered vessel, and sailed under several names including “Naguilan”, “Nordhaff” and “Atlas” until 1971, when after an extensive fire she was declared a total constructive loss, She was then sold to Greek interests and again   went through several changes in ownership and name changes including the Nikitas which was registered to the Pandio Shipping Co, a part of the  Vikki Shipping Line. The vessel then took on the name Marcus in 1978.( The owner of this shipping line Demitris P Kavadas was later to be found guilty of insurance fraud involving several other vessels including the Viki K and  Elpinki K-both reported to have sunk around the same time as the Chrisoula K, the latter being owned by the Clarion Marine, which Kavadas had financial connections with!)


The vessel left Italy after taking on a cargo of granite floor tiles. After passing through the Suez Canal bound for Jeddah she  ran aground during a storm  in May 1978.The official report stated that the vessel had encountered difficulty in steering. Stephan Jablonski, an engineer on board had just finished his shift and went to bed.

“I was awakened  in the early hours by a tremendous noise of screeching metal, utter panic and crew running every where. We had run aground onto a reef. For the next 6 hours we tried to prevent the water from flooding the ship. The engine room was in 6ft of water and she was settling by the stern. We abandoned the ship and were taken on board a passing cargo ship bound for Suez

Although he didn’t Know it Stephan was to find himself back on the same reef some 3 years later, after surviving a second shipwrecking on board the Elphinki in the Medditeranean. The

Authors note In 1978 I was part of a BSAC  group visiting the Red Sea for the first time . The skipper of our boat, Saleem Hussan, took us to Abu Huhas-he wanted to recover some tiles from a recent wreck During our dives the ships bell was recovered and retained by Saleem. As well as bearing her original name the date and port of registry were marked clearly-BREMEN 1951.The painted name on her hull and wooden boards reading Marcus. We were totally un aware that only 200 mtrs along the reef lay the Carnatic-it would be 7 years before she was to be found.


For years she was mistaken for the Chrisoula K which by coincidence arrived on the same reef 3 years later-a similar ship, a similar cargo a similar journey. The broken off bow of the Chrisoula K sitting on top of the reef next to the tile wreck simply added to the confusion-deliberate or coincidence????

She never broke in two( The  Chrisoula K, however did) and her bow section still lies in place. Her starboard anchor chain is clearly visible spilled out over the reef.  Her hull continues down the slope in one continuous wall of steel to the aft hold where a crack in the hull has allowed some of the cargo to fall over and onto the sea floor. The intact stern, complete with rudder and prop lies in 27 mtrs of water and lies over to starboard.


The main section from the bow to the stern castle  sits upright. The upper part of her bow lies on the top of the reef, in 3 mtrs and the two forward holds, like the aft hold are full of tiles on pallets stamped “MADE IN ITALY”. The cross bracing girders of #1 hold have collapsed due to impact damage, but from #2 hold aft the wreck is relatively intact, although the bridge has collapsed, and the stern section aft of the hold lies over to starboard, with the weather deck, companionways and winch still discernible. On the port side in the lower engine room compartment is a drill stand draped in a golden coat of concretion. A single sunbeam illuminates the scene through a hole in the wreck. Her fore and aft derricks have fallen over to starboard. Hard coral adorns the hull and there is a resident shoal of ever-curious Batfish. Her funnel has sheared off and lies on the seabed along with other debris including a toilet.


Entering her engine room is via the bridge skylights and should only be under taken by very experienced divers using proper wreck penetration techniques. For those who venture in, the sight is quite amazing natural light percolates through creating a surreal atmosphere, and a challenging photo opportunity. The upper section of the engine room is quite open but it is possible to enter the lower decks of the generator plants and engines themselves. An opening through to the transmission tunnel beckons but should not be entered, anyway a huge grouper lurks here as a guardian to the foolish! Gliding over walkways round the intact working of this vessel is a thrilling experience for the cool headed, but it is no place for mistakes or un- certainties. What is left of the bridge area offers some nice swim throughs and this can be accessed from the engine room or from the skylights above.

Swimming back along the starboard side, into shallow water there are a second set of bows, anchors and chains lying in very shallow water. These are the remains of the  bow section of the  Chrisoula K. Masts from the Chrisoula K lie on top of  and across those from the Marcus- another of the many clues to the existence of two tile wrecks.


The mooring is usually placed amidships above the superstructure. As the wreck slopes down into deeper water, it is easy to locate the stern. Swim out over her port side through a crack in the hull down (hull on the left) to her massive prop and rudder( 27m). Swim out a few mtrs and take in the view. This section has broken at the bulkhead and leans over to starboard. Beneath the weather deck are store rooms and accommodation areas over two floors-room for two divers at a time!(24m)

Swim around the companionway on her starboard side through to the last hold. Over two the right is her funnel (note the difference between this one and that of the Chrisoula K) and a field of sand eels. From here locate a crack in the hull-winches and piles of tiles rise up into the #3 hold. Ahead is a supporting girder running port-starboard. By swimming under this (12m) the workshop comes into view-lathe, pillar drill and tool store-often full of hatchets. Note the door on your right-it’s the entrance to the engine room. Glide through the work shop then u turn back and the entrance to the engine room will be to your left (careful with the fins Eugene).


For those with overhead environment experience the lower part of the engine room can be accessed via a stairwell located in the forward port corner-so turn right once through the door. The stair well leads down into the generator room 4 huge generators can be seen, with the huge engine block centrally placed. (12-14 m) Corridors forward and aft of the engine take you through into the pump room. There are fire hoses, tools, gauges, and valves. A good torch is essential, although light filters through from above. Exit via the same stairwell.

A less demanding route can be used by swimming straight across the landing to another door opposite. This leads to the galley(left and left again) out through to the port side to swim forward to the forward holds. The cargo has shifted and has formed a corridor with the hull. Light usually streams in here. Watch out for some big groupers. Swim over to the starboard side out and along the hull (10m).You will see the hull has no break and the bow is  still attached (take care if a swell is running) as you swim forward you will see two sets of masts/derricks. Those on top lead to a second bow-well dispersed-these are from the Chrisoula K, you will also see two sets of anchors and chains. Turn back now with the hull of the Marcus now on your right and swim back over the holds to the superstructure (8m) to finish of the dive.

This is an easy dive when the weather is right-in a heavy swell the rib is in danger of ending up on the reef. The usual considerations, training equipment and experience must be taken into account before a penetration dive is carried out .Good timing will also enhance the dive. The controversy over her identity will no doubt rage on but all the evidence is there and it adds flavour to a dive on the MARCUS –the tile wreck.

The bell which was recovered back in 1979 when we “rescued” tiles for Saleem from the wreck. It hung in his veranda for many years covered in white paint. I persuaded him to let me clean it up and it revealed the original name of the wreck as the M.V.Atlas built in Bremen in 1956. This piece of evidence helped us retrace the initial history of the vessel, establish a time line and prove beyond a doubt that the tile wreck is indeed the MARCUS (K) and not the Chrisoula K

The full story is available in “THE TILE WRECK HER TRUE STORY”




A Panamanian steam ship built in 1922,at Hamburgh. The 2542 ton,344 ft long vessel was lying at anchor near Suez for nearly 2 years when she was bombed during the Arab Israeli conflict. The resulting explosions and fire caused severe damage to the bridge and engine room.  With the hull holed and flooded she settled upright in shallow water. The vessel sank on July 1st 1969




Built  as the Rolf Jarl, a 1,917 GRT  “three-island” steam ship was  built at Trondhjems Mekaniske Værksted, Trondheim, Norway for Det Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab, also of Trondheim, Norway in October 1920. She was  81 mtrs x ,  12.8 mtrs  x 6.8 mtrs.).



In October 1940 she joined Convoy SC9 on the Sydney-UK passage.

On 08 December 1940,  departed Liverpool, UK, with Convoy OB256

In June 1941 the Rolf Jarl sailed with Convoy SL78, from Freetown to Liverpool

August 1941, sailed with Convoy ON4 in the North Atlantic.
In July 1942 she sailed with Convoy SC91,

In  August 1942 she sailed on Convoy ON122 in the North Atlantic .


She was sold to Reederei Richard Schröder, Hamburg, Germany, in August 1950 and renamed the Maria Schröder.
On 11 April 1956, while enroute from Aqaba, Jordan to West Germany, the ship ran aground on a reef at Nabq Attempts to refloat the ship were unsuccessful and she was declared a total constructive loss.


For many years she stood on top of the reef to the northern end of the NABQ region, a warning to other vessels. Built as the ROLF JARL in 1920 for the Norwegian company of Det Nordenfjelske, she was sold in 1950 to the Richard Schroder Company and was wrecked in 1956.After many years she succumbed to the storms and now lies in 27 mtrs hull upmost, below the site of her grounding. Many portholes still remain,(albeit cast) with parts of the wreck colonised with encrusting life  and glass fish  shelter in the overhangs. Soft corals have colonised some parts of the wreck, but there is still parts of the wreck which are bare metal. Visibility is not as good as in the Straits and good weather is needed to avoid heavy swells. Locals often dive her from the shore.









The ship departed Aqaba Jordan on 19 June 1996, enroute to Taiwan with a cargo of 26,000 tons of potash and phosphates. Around 10am the following morning we were diving off Gordon reef when one of the guests pointed out a ship bellowing smoke in the distance some miles up the coasts in the direction of Nabq. From 5 miles away we watched as the huge vessel ran aground. Our crew shouted as one “New wreck Mr Peter”

It was to be a long 48 hours before we could get anywhere near the wreck to investigate. Her superstructure had been totally gutted and her wooden name plate had only 4 letters remaining H..O..P..E


Lloyd’s List dated 24 June 1996 carried the following item under “Casualty Report“:
“MILLION HOPE (Cyprus) Jun 21: Egyptian Maritime Officials said yesterday they were concerned about possible leakage of about 23,000 tons of phosphate and potassium plus 700 tons of fuel from the bulk carrier Million Hope which sank off Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Cairo radio reported. All 25 members of the crew were rescued by Egyptian naval vessels and other vessels in an operation that lasted more than 20 hours. The vessel, on voyage from Jordan to Taiwan, was ripped open by coral reefs near Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh resort. The vessel’s mainly Filipino crew huddled in the stern and refused to abandon ship until it became clear the vessel would sink, Cairo radio said. Some of the crew accused the vessel’s master of failing to follow the area’s prescribed navigation routes and of maintaining speed despite

As well as the total destruction of a huge area of reef and the wreck of the Hey Daroma, some of the phosphates leaked out of the crack in the hull, although much was salvaged. A strange algae bloom took place and huge pieces of lichen like weed tumbled down onto the reefs .The walls escaped harm as the dull green clumps slowly found deep water, but the plateau at Gordon was smothered in the stuff. Nothing seemed to feed on it and months were to pass as the algae rotted away to a brown slime. For me Gordon reef has never fully recovered from this intrusion and has lost a lot of it’s vibrant colour and life.



In 2007 salvage work continued reducing the vessel to the water line. The superstructure some how  ended upside down in #5 hold, thus reducing the stern to a flat expanse in shallow water and gapping holes down into her engine room .Several of the control towe4s have also fallen into the holds. Many of the holds have now split open due to the salvage work and indeed the effect of the open sea on her hull. At 174 mtrs long she can provide several dives in less than 25 mtrs. The initial crack in her hull now separates the two halves of the wreck and her port forward quarter hull has also collapsed. The stern still stands upright, minus her prop, but the bow has broken off and despite its enormous proportions has spun round, fo’c’sle facing the shore. The staggering proportions of the ship make it an awesome sight underwater- Subject to swell but little current the wreck is now attracting  a great deal of fish life and coral growths can be seen every where. 16 years on the wreck is slowly becoming a massive extension to the reef.


The best place to start and finish the dive is the stern and it is here that a great surprise awaits-the salvage crane now rests upright on the sea bed in 24 mtrs with the lower half of her jib reaching for the surface. Within days of its arrival hydroids had coated the wreck and a huge grouper had claimed the jib as its own.


Now, in 2015 the jib is as the local reefs once were. Festooned in vibrant soft corals, the lattice work a haven for glass fish and the obligatory prides of Lionfish which hover relentlessly looking for their next victim. Only a few meters below the surface , it would be acceptable to stay here for the whole dive with a camera-the opportunities are endless. Antheas too give this s reef like appearance.

The control cab is home to huge groupers and stands firmly embedded on the seabed, its caterpillar tracks sunk unto the sand under the weight.

The upper part of the jib lies nearby on the sea floor. Overhanging like a huge cave the rudderless and now prop-less stern reaches 22mtrs high and breaks the surface. . Off the port stern is a debris field-many fittings, ladders, vent cowls and handrails have taken on a gown of soft corals –a photographers dream-catch the superb morning light-in the afternoon this is in shadow

Above Samuel my trusted DM from the Snefro fleet, left Tim Wheeldon, one of our longstanding RSWA members hovers over one of the ships crane control cabs, itself dwarfed by the surrounding steel walls of number 2 hold. The holds are beginning to fill with sand ,but still succeed  in attracting large shoals of sea bream, jacks, macrel and often tuna

Swimming forward along the hull the wreck begins to break up, and access to the other holds is possible. Then perhaps the true power of the sea comes into view. The huge bow section no longer stands upright-it now lies on its side, fo’c’sle pointing towards the reef.The fo’c’sle itself now totally underwater.From here the route continues along her port side forward-  a massive steel wall towers above until a A huge gash appears in the hull and it is easy to swim into this cavernous hold- a huge crack on the starboard side offers an exit towards the reef but a swim around the hold gives an impression of her size and this is only one of five!

Swimming back along the deck, hard corals are now well established and the gunwales flank the deck which is broken in several places. Aft of the holds the superstructure is all but gone, but the salvage work has opened up the cavity above the engine-revealing 3 floors of workshops store rooms and machine rooms. A 30 ft lathe sits idle in one, while another hosts huge spanners still hanging on the wall, and there are oil tanks calorifiers, pumps, generators and piping. There is enough material to keep the wreckie happy for hours!-and all in less than 20 mtrs.


The weather is a major factor diving this wreck-with a swell running most skippers will avoid the site-calm conditions are best  given that the final part of the dive is in 4 mtrs!. It should also be noted that the wreck continues to break up and with the best will in the world, the above information may quickly become outdated. Care should also be taken when exploring the engine room-There is a great deal of loose metal-partly from the recent salvage and a lot of loose debris. However the wreck is a very easy dive-with only a slight current, if in deed any-visibility is often very good although a swell will reduce this. An A.M. dive will give the best light as the port side becomes rather gloomy in the afternoon.


The crawling crane mentioned above deserves  a separate mention. It has become a living reef, its jib towering high towards the surface and is truly one of the most amazing structures underwater. Half of the jib lies on the seabed, again the crisscross structure is covered in soft corals. A veritable photographers paradise. Long may the locals swim right passed her.






Lying  some 30 mtrs off the stern of the minesweeper is the wreck of a traditional  Egyptian fishing trawler, which sank in January of 2007.The trawler sits upright pointing towards the stern  of the minesweeper and ironically attracted fish almost as soon as she sank. The wooden wheelhouse, destined to eventually collapse is at present intact , and still boasts its glass, The hold and engine room are easy to explore.

The rudder prop and keel are covered in a very well established growth of soft corals suggesting the vessel had been a t anchor for some time before it sank. Once the local inhabitants take hold she should become a colourful addition to the growing menu of local wrecks

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