Secret Wrecks Of The Gulf Of Suez

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SOME OF THE WRECKS IN THE GULF OF SUEZ

M.V. ELLIOT

The Elliot was a cargo ship of 2,870 GRT built at Euskalduna Shipyard (Yard No. 157), Olaveaga, Spain. She was originally named ASK and was flagged as a Norwegian vessel. Launched 20 June 1962, she was completed the following year with a length of 93.7 meters, beam of 14.8 meters, with a single diesel engine and shaft for a speed of 12.5 knots. In 1973 the ship was renamed Zepmare and renamed again in 1974 as the Jutland (Miramar incorrectly spelled this name as Juetland on their website). Sometime afterwards, the ship was sold to the Ugars Marine Co., Panama, and in 1980 was renamed the Elliot.

On 11 July 1984, the ship was steaming south in the Gulf of Suez with a 3500 ton cargo of chickpeas when she struck the reef just north of Ras Dib. The ship then sank in approximately 10-meters of water.

From the attitude of the wreck she was driven ashore at full speed with her rudder straight. There appears to have been no time or need? to avoid the grounding. She is bow down into the reef in 10 mtrs of water her bow broken up and her starboard plates scattered around the seabed. The letters A-N-D, U, and J, easily discernable on the scattered plates were a great help in confirming her identity The bow section was easy to access although the inside was a mass of confused and torn steel. Here a large shoal of golden hatchets has taken up residence. Her hull side plates, which formed the main structure of her holds have all collapsed and form a tangled jungle of steel with large girders, pies and flanges. Her superstructure, partly flooded was accessed via the aft bulkhead, allowing access into the engine room, generating plant, workshops and accommodation area. The sea bed was littered with many interesting items, such as riding lights complete with lenses, and   her anchor light still stood proud on its mast.

BIRCHWOOD 11

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

A shoal of juvenile barracuda circled her mast complete with radar array and aerials.

An image which sums up the excitement of an undived virgin wreck .With all her bridge instruments still to be found, a diver explores the wheel house of the Birchwood 2.The compass binnacle is just in front of the ships helm- a wooden wheel, although showing signs of decay is still perfectly formed and a superb prop for the camera .One of 7 wrecks found during the 3 day expedition to this then undived area.

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.

LAURA SECURITY

The M/T Laura Security was built in 1956 as the 486 GRT. cargo ship Baltica at Karlstad Varv AB (Yard No. 137), Karlstad, Sweden, for Malmö Rederi AB, Malmö, Sweden. She had a length of 57.76 meters, beam of 8.64 meters, and draufth of 3.33 meters. Propulsion was provided by a 5-cylinder “Alpha” diesel and single shaft for a speed of 11 knots.

The Baltica changed owners and names at various times throughout her reather uneventful career. One exception is that while still owned by Malmö Rederi AB, on 01 April 1964, the ship ran aground at Hasslo, and archipelago of Karisdrona, Sweden, and was refloated with assistance from the salvage tug Atlas and rescue boat Hjalparen.

In 1965 the Baltica was transferred to Rederi AB Svea, Stockholm, Sweden (The SVEA Line) when Malmö Rederi AB was either purchased by SVEA or the company became a subsidiary.

In 1969 the ship was sold to Partrederi R Dehlin, Visby, Sweden, and renamed Baltic.
Sold in 1972 to Alvar Olsson, Varberg, Sweden, and again later that same year to W. Gothenius, Goteborg, Sweden. And then sold yet again in 1972 to Argo Mar Co, Ltd, Greece and renamed the Niki.

In 1981 the Niki changed owners again twice that year. First to K. Karafotias SA, Greece, and then to Malacontas SA, Panama and renamed Laura Security.

The Loss of the Ship:
On 22 April 1983 the Laura Security was bound to Ras Shukhier from Suez with a cargo of fuel oil when she ran aground and was stranded off of Ras Shukhier. She was written off as a total constructive loss.

M.V.LAURA SECURITY

She ran aground with a cargo  of gas oil   in heavy weather on a voyage from Suez to Ras Shukier on April 22nd 1983 and was deemed a total constructive loss.

The  vessel sits upright with its bridge out of the water . Many of the hull plates had fallen to the seabed allowing sunlight to stream through its vertical supports highlighting shoals of fish. The strong sunlight afforded by the shallow depths provided endless photo opportunities. With the hull intact the bow and stern are very photogenic and the supporting fish life is quite amazing. It is possible to explore the fo’c’sle and engine room-the later being the deepest part of the wreck in only 8mtrs Due to its location the wreck is blessed by the afternoon sun and the long beams of light shine through many holes in the wreck. Those who are not put off by the lack of depth are well rewarded

The deck lies in only 6 mtrs, but all of her valves ,piping and other fittings are all still in situ. Shoals of fish find shelter amongst the frameworks

M.V.LAURA SECURITY

GEMINI OIL RIG

Marked on the chart as PD (position determined), north east of the end of the bay at Shukier in 24 mtrs. In our first venture to the area in 2003, using the GPS coordinates we placed a shot line and dropped down for a look. The shot had landed dead centre on a large steel plate, surrounded by ladders, modern vent cowls. The debris covered a large area as we carried out a circular search 75 mtrs. As our bottom time ran out we could see that the debris field ran north into deeper water. A second dive was organised but by the time the group descended a strong current had picked up and I suspect that the shot had been moved off the target area by some one dragging themselves down the line! When we retrieved it, it was 300mtrs from its original position.

Grant (our Dm) and myself have no doubt that we were very close to finding the wreck, although without diving it I have no idea as to its identity. Another one earmarked for our return .My thanks to ANDY, COLIN, ALAN  LESLIE, KAREN,GRANT and SONIA

WE  returned in 2004 with an SSS SIDESCAN and thanks to Fiona Stewart we were able to locate the debris field. Two teams searched the seabed and all we found were huge sections of metalwork, generators and winches-all with their very own eco system. We expected to find the wreck at any second but alas nothing was found. 4 more hours were spent scanning the area, and despite up to date info from the hydrographers department we were unable to locate the main section of the wreck.

We found was a strange depression in the sand-complety round some two mtrs deep- it seemed man made-and full of snapper and jacks perhaps this is the answer;

“The American jack up drilling barge Gemini was damaged while drilling off Ras Shukier .The sea bed collapsed under one of the legs on October 8th 1974. 18 people died. During salvage operations it rolled over almost capsizing, bending all its legs .It was written off at a cost of £4.1 million, removed and broken up”.

MV ABOUDY

Built in   1960 as the VILLE DE TENES, by Handel SCHPSB Kramer &Body originally designed to carry wine,  she was 76 mtr long, 11.4 mtr beam, 490 tons., fitted with A  4sa 7 cyl oil M.A.N.  engine. In 1962 she became the CAPTAIN SAINT JEAN until  1979 when she was bought by Nakhia & Sado Marine Services (Egypt) and was finally named the ABOUDY .

The M/V Aboudy is said to have originally been built as the 500 GRT wine tanker Ville De Tenes at Dutch Kramer & Booy, Kootstertille (Yard No. 111) for Societe Mediterranee de Combustibles, Sete. Launched 19 September 1959 with a length of76 meters, beam of 11.4 meters, with a 7-cylinder diesel engine.

In 1962 she became the Captain Saint Jean until she was purchased by Nakhia & Sado Marine in 1979 and renamed Aboudy

What is known is that the ship ran aground in heavy weather, quite possibly on 07 May 1988, at Ras Gharib, Egypt carrying a cargo of aluminum, livestock, and cough medicine. The ship eventually sank.

While carrying a general cargo, cargo 120 tons of aluminium,  and livestock The ABOUDY sank  off Ras Gharib in heavy weather on the 7th May 1988.  Running aground into shallow water, she capsized onto her port side and was deemed a total constructive loss.  Located  September 13th 2005 by PC and members of Bromley BSAC, inshore of the Scalaria in shallow water. The wreck lies  on its port side in a north south attitude with the bows to the north and her keel to seaward. The bridge and superstructure are located aft and have collapsed. The holds which run continuously through the ship   still contain some of her cargo-hundreds of 120ml  bottles of cough medicine lie in the silt and the surrounding sand, and long lengths of aluminium extrusion lie in  twisted heaps. Two huge, and very photogenic A -frame derricks run horizontal, flanking the holds , served by 4 sets of twin winchesm and a radio mast runs out from the bridge area. The fo’c’sle has evidence of other items of cargo stored there. Handrails and flagstaffs are intact, and several bulk head lamps can still be seen. The prop and rudder are still in place in only 7 mtrs of water.  Several mast lamps, complete with lenses remain in their appropriate place Given the shallow depth there is plenty of time to explore this fascinating shipwreck- with the bonus of strong sunlight and varied marine life which  includes shoaling barracuda and fusiliers, emperor angle fish , crocodile fish, torpedo rays  as well as encrusting corals and sponges on the hull and fittings.

The site is  subject to swell as the seabed is sandy and visibility can be greatly reduced in poor weather

S.S.SCALARIA

THE SHIP

Built in 1922 for the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co at Swan Hunters, Newcastle, this 5683 ton steam tanker was 411 ft long, 55 FT beam and 30 FT draught, capable of 10 knots and fitted with triple expansion engines built by the Wallsend Slipway engineering co.She was requesitoned in the Admiralty services and armed with 1 4”, 1 12pnr 2 twin Lewis 4 Hotchkiss and one Breda. She had a crew of 52 including 4 navy gunners.

SS SCALARIA

THE FINAL VOYAGE

CAPTAIN J. WARING “ We sailed from Hurghada at 0630 on 18th October  1942, arriving off Ras Gharib at 1530 the same day to load with crude and then proceed to anchorage “B”. I hoisted a signal to be moored without delay conditions then being favourable. At 1615 I was informed that the vessel could not be moored until the following morning.”

Next morning the Scalaria docked and started to load 7000 tons of crude oil. At 1750 Waring received an  instruction to house his balloon , and not fire on any aircraft as there was to be  a practise flight with lights burning between 2000 and 2200hrs.

THE SINKING

CAPTAIN J WARING “At 2215 I made the rounds of the ship, saw the gunners at their posts. At 2230 I retired to my room, being awakened at 2230 by an attacking Heinkel 111 approaching from the land, roughly westward. The aircraft circled at approximately 100 ft, then dropped a torpedo which struck the ship on the starboard side abaft of the bridge in no. 3 tank. There was a terrific explosion which caused the ship to shudder violently and carried away the stern moorings, causing the ship to swing round from north to south. All the woodwork in my room collapsed and the iron frame twisted, jamming the two doors. By sheer force I burst one door open and on reaching the deck saw the whole of the after starboard side of the deck was ablaze, with burning oil pouring from the ships side and drifting aft.”

At this point the Heinkel lined up for another attack, this time releasing a  bomb.

Some of the men were trapped aft and ran up onto the poop others on the fo’c’scle slid down ropes over the bow.

WARING “ I WAS ABOUT TO SHOUT  TO THESE MEN WHEN A BOMB STRUCK THE FOREDECK WITH A TERRIFIC EXPLOSION.I WAS BADLY BURNED  AND INJURED BY THIS BOMB AND SAW IT WAS NO USE TRYING TO GET THE MEN TO COME AMIDSHIPS AS THE WHOLE FOREDECK WAS NOW BLAZING FURIOUSLY”.

“I could not get to the ships papers as my cabin was completely wrecked and flames were coming up the accommodation ladder.”

Aided by the Chief officer, and although badly wounded, Waring lowered the midships life boat. The bo’sun and chief steward made it into the boat as Warring and the chief officer slid down the falls. With only the Chief officer and the bo’sun un injured they were unable to progress forward to rescue other crew members in the water due to the weight of the boat and strong currents.

WARING “As we drifted I called out to the men on the poop to jump or throw us a rope but they were to slow. By the stern buoy we could see more men calling out and  we picked up six more crewmen. Even with this extra manpower we were unable to row against the wind sea and current. I was thankful to see a launch approach from the foreshore which picked up all  remaining survivors”

2ND OFFICER ARMATAGE

“I was 2nd officer on the tanker Scalaria about 11pm I was thrown out of my bunk by a terrific explosion. Altogether we were hit by 4 bombs. The ship was like an inferno. I noticed the 3rd officer unconscious. I picked him up and made my way forward. We joined others on the fo’c’le and lowered the anchor cables, went over the side and hung onto them with the ship blazing above our heads”

“It was instinct I suppose, as I reached the open air there was a second explosion .All together we were hit by 4 bombs-and we were heavily loaded with crude oil.

The ship was like  an  inferno .Making my way along the deck, I noticed the third mate unconscious. I picked him up and made my way f’ward.

I wasn’t really walking through flame the flames were following us all the time.

Many of the crew had gone forward. There was no question of being able to stay on the ship So we lowered the  anchor cables and  hung on them in the water as the ship blazed above our heads”

For his bravery Armatage was awarded the MBE and the Lloyds Medal

As the ship blazed she settled on a even keel her gutted centre island, accommodation and engine house totally gutted.

Armed with this detailed information and hydrographic reports three expeditions were carried out to locate the wreck. By the third trip we had located several  other wrecks (Aboudy,  Attiki,  Bakr, Birchwood, Elliot, Gemini, laura Security,) These finding has allowed us to eliminate several suspects-Scalaria was by far a bigger ship and by the third trip we had a pretty good idea where she was.411ft and 5600 tons of l of ship on a sandy bottom a big clear target.

Members of Brighton BSAC joined my in the search and we found her a mile north of our “guesstimation”. Even before we dived her I knew this was the Scalaria-there was her bow facing south just as J Waring had stated.

The bow and fo’c’sle were found upright broken off from the main section. Iron framework and adders helped define the section of ship. From here back to the centre island was a dispersed area of huge proportions with her valve-ing and pipe work twisted, distorted and mangled amongst sectional framing and bulkheads over an area of 200ft x 50ft. Portholes, deck fittings and winches lay scattered in a chaotic scrapyard of metal.

Where the centre island had been the wreckage stood almost to the surface with more large sections of her holds standing upright. More evidence of the massive explosions in the form of huge sections of steel holded outwards forming overhangs for fish and encrusting species.

Three huge boilers mark the aft section of the vessel. With the engine house gone, the triple expansion engine lies bare –big ends con rods and a huge reversing wheel are easily located and recognised

PROOF OF ID It was amongst the plates gratings and pies which had been the engine room that we found absolute proof that would keep any sceptics quite. The engine manufacturers plate lay upside down amongst the debris covered in concretion and half buried. Exhumed, and cleaned it was to read “WALLSEND SLIPWAY and ENGINEERING CO LTD NEWCASTLE ON TYNE 1921”  ENGINES NO 843

The stern, like the bow is upright reaching to within a few feet of the surface- her propeller  long since salvaged, but leaving no doubt as to the size of the vessel

SURVEY VESSEL BAKR

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 mach 2006 the wreck was discovered sitting upright on a sandy seabed just of the headland at Ras Gaharib, in 12 mtrs of water. 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.

HALA

An Egyptian dredger, sank 3 miles off False Ras Gharib in May 1987 in 65 mtrs of water

M.V TALITA

Built 1967 by SCHPS DE HOOP N.V. LOBITH. AS

KHARSIS

1976  NOTRE DAME DE AFRIQUE

1981 HAJ ABDULSATTAR ISSA

1984  TALITA, owned by Desert Falcon Shipping Line.

Final voyage Thesalonica to Port Sudan, cargo shifted during heavy weather ran aground , abandoned by crew, slipped back into deeper water.

Coordinates provided by HYDROGRAPHIC DEPARTMENT

Domiat ex hms nith

HMS Nith was a British River Class frigate of 1460 tons displacement launched in 1942. HMS Nith was powered by two Admiralty 3-drum type boilers providing a top speed of 20 knots. She carried a complement of 140 and was armed with two 4-inch dual-purpose guns; ten 20 mm anti-aircraft guns and one Hedgehog multiple spigot mortar.

At 0130 hours on 1st November the cruiser “Newfoundland” was moving up the Gulf of Suez when she observed a darkened ship passing her in the opposite direction. “Newfoundland” turned parallel with her and identified her as an Egyptian frigate. A signal was flashed to her to “Stop or I fire.” This was correctly acknowledged and the frigate appeared to slow down. “Newfoundland” signalled to report she had stopped.

The frigate then switched off her navigation lights and trained her armament on the “Newfoundland.” The latter then opened fire and the frigate opened fire immediately afterwards. After five minutes the frigate was seen to be sinking and firing ceased. Searchlights were trained on the water to assist in rescue work and 70 survivors were picked up.

Rescue work continued for an hour and a half, after which a marker buoy was dropped and the South African vessel “President Steyn” was asked to continue the search.

luillia

A Greek steamship, built in 1929,by /S Fredriksstad M/V, Fredrickstad1808 tons, 273 ft long, was bound for Yembo in Saudi Arabia, with a cargo of 3200 tons of cement and other building materials, when  south east of Za’farana lighthouse on April 6th 1969 , a boiler exploded and the resulting fire caused severe damage to the ship. The captain and crew abandoned the ship before another explosion destroyed the engine room and accommodation. She drifted and ran aground   75 miles south of Suez at Ras Ruahmi

.SS TURKIA

The rumours of “a wreck north of the Thistlegorm” could well apply to this wreck. A very similar vessel sunk by explosion and indeed carrying war materials, the SS TURKIA has the potential of being the new Thistlegorm and could indeed bring prosperity to a very run down area of Egypt’s coast line. The area has its own calm settled climate and this wreck is diveable all year round. The added bonus is the amount of marine life it attracts and its discovery must eventually open up this area to some great new discoveries . Currently well out of the range of most safari boats based in Hurghada or Sharm, she is without doubt one of the very best wrecks found in sport diving depths –so far in Egyptian waters

THE SHIP

Built in Hull in 1909 as the LIVORNO(11)*,she was a schooner rigged steam cargo ship of 1671 tonnes gross, 300ft long and a 42 ft beam, clinker built by Earles Shipbuilding and Engineering Co.(yard no. 562) She was fitted with a reciprocating, triple expansion, direct acting vertical steam engine producing an IHP of 1000, making 9.5 knots, made by Amos Smith, also of hull. She has 4 bulkheads and a cruiser stern, single shaft and propeller.

She was built for Thomas Wilson Sons &Co, again of Hull.

Upon completion in 1910, she was deployed in a variety of trades, serving between Hull, London and the Adriatic in her first year. In 1911 between Hull Constatinople, Novorossick and Odessa and between St Petersburg and Cronstadt. In 1916 it was employed in the Hull –Trieste run. On the eve of the start of WW1 she was engaged in the Manchester-Liverpool to St Petersburg, Revel/Riga trade, making 6 voyages in all. After he war she was involved in a variety of routes carrying perishable fruits and bulk cargos such as coal.

*Liverno 1 built 1899 as the Marsdin renamed Liverno in 1901, Liverno 111 built in 1946, broken up in 1973

NORTH SEA COLLISION

THE TIMES, DECEMBER 1923

ON TUESDAY THE 11TH December 1923 at 11AM, under the command of Captain Harold Newton, the SS Livorno was involved in a collision with the Newcastle steamship MARIE ROSE (ex Spero,ex Ashtree,1579 tonnes, owned by the Rodney S.S.Co.), off the  Haisbro Light Vessel (Happisburgh) in dense fog. Owned by the Wilson Ellerman line, the 1911 ton cargo passenger ship Liverno was outbound for the Adriatic and Algiers from  Hull with a full cargo, when she struck the Rose Marie amidships. At the time the Liverno was proceeding dead slow and when contact was made the Captain increased speed maintaining contact with  the stricken vessel allowing her 18 crew(most without clothing) to scramble over the Livernos bow. Captain Newton then smartly backed away and the Rose Marie overturned and sank quickly. The Rose Marie was bound for London from the Tyne and sank in less than 5 minutes. Her crew were all saved and taken on board the Liverno which then made for Hull. She was put into dry dock for repairs

FIRE AT BREST

On 23rd September 1926, The Liverno was on a voyage from Patras to London with a cargo of currents when fire broke out in her bunkers. A salvage steamer went to her assistance while lighters came along side to discharge her cargo. Once the fire was put out the vessel was reloaded and continued on her journey.

THE S.S. TURKIA

The years from 1920 to 1935 saw a decline in the Russain trade , due to the Russain embargo on exports other than in Russian ships. Due to this the Ellerman Wilson  Line re-orginised their fleet and the Liverno was sold to Greek interests. In April 1935 she was sold th the West Hartlepool Navagation Shipping Company Ltd and  then on to the Helleic Lines of P.G. Callimanopulos for £7200.In December 34 she sailed with a cargo of non perishable goods to Piraeus, her crew coming from the  Greek vessel Anastasios Petroutsis based at Gwent and on arrival became the  S.S. TURKIA.

Background information:

The Times, Thursday 15 May 1941.

On 14 May 1941, the German command made a broadcast addressed to American shipping: ‘Owing to the development of the war in the Eastern Mediterranean, activities of German forces in the Red Sea are to be expected from now on. Every ship entering these waters, which have thereby become danger zones, runs the risk of destruction by mines or other weapons of war. The German Government therefore urgently warn all ships not to sail into these dangerous areas, which are bounded as follows:- the northern part of the Red Sea, including the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Akaba, as far as the Tropic of Cancer’. The British knew that Germany possessed long-range bombers which were capable of depositing magnetic or other mines in the Gulfs of Suez and Akaba; and that Germany would like America to believe that, by these means, they are capable of denying these waters to shipping. But they (Germany) had been laying such mines in British waters and harbours continually for more than a year, in far greater numbers than are possible in the Near East, and they have never yet succeeded in seriously interrupting shipping, in spite of boasts about the efficacy of the ‘German blockade’ and the Red Sea does not lend itself effectively to mining. As for ‘other means of war’ the RAF in the Middle East can be trusted to deal…effectively with any enemy aircraft that attempt to employ them there.

FINAL VOYAGE

The Turkia’s final voyage began in New York in May 1941, where she loaded with a full cargo of “government stores”-she was bound for Pireus. The cargo included explosives, tires, coils of wire, ingots, vehicles and firearms.

THE SINKING

Two conflicting reports

“Bombed off Zafarana Light 2 miles SE May 14th 1941” – “Destroyed by fire and explosion near Zafarana Light Gulf of Suez, after being abandoned by her crew when on passage from New York to Piraeus with general cargo and explosives.”

“17/5/1941 she had a fire in no. 3 hold where explosives were stored (she was carrying explosives and general cargo) and the fire was beyond control so the vessel was abandoned. 10 minutes later there was a large explosion and the vessel sank in 12 fathoms. Nothing was being done (later that is) as no competent salvage service was available at Port Said.”-Anne Crowe Lloyds

This would explain why she is not in Lloyds War Losses as it sounds like an accident rather than enemy action. Indeed the hull would appear to be intact ( from initial dive)and she looks as if she has settled slowly and upright.

Due to the Straits of Gibralta being closed off by axis forces her journey entailed entering the Red Sea at its southern end. She entered the Gulf of Suez and was proceeding north when, just off the lighthouse At Zafarana , fire broke out in number 3 hold and due to the nature of her cargo she was abandoned.10 minutes later she was rocked by an explosion and settled upright in 12 fathoms. Due to the lack of facilities at Suez no salvage was attempted. Due to the nature of her sinking she does not appear as a casualty of war, merely a wartime loss.

THE DISCOVERY

Browsing through the wartime records I came across two separate entries for the sinking. One stated she had been attacked and bombed by enemy aircraft the other stated that she had sunk due to an internal explosion. Both agreed about her position –near Zafarana Lighthouse in the Gulf of Suez,a long way north of RAS GARIB, our most northerly exploration of the Gulf of Suez so far.

A fisherman claimed to know her position. I decided to enlist the help of my good friend Basim ……… and put together a road trip. At Zafarana the only means of putting to sea available was a disused glass bottom boat, lying on the beach at the Zafarana Hotel. A10 minute journey took us to the target area, and with the shallow seabed of sand (24 mtrs,) the shadow of the wreck was soon located, rising up to within 10 mtrs of the surface.

DIVING DETAILS

The wreck sits upright on sand in 24 mtrs, with the bow facing towards the shore. The hull is intact, although some sections have holes appearing in the upper sections. Both masts have been cut below the water line and lie off to the side of the wreck. The surrounding seabed is littered with debris from the wreck and is patrolled by Jacks and Travellies.

The bow sits proud bathed in sunlight and is straight raked-same vintage as  the Rosalie Moller. Clouds of fairley  basslets swarm over the fo’c’lse head with its access hatches, hawse pipes, panama eye, triple cleats  and windlass. Three deck houses sit at the aft section of the fo’c’sle, and there are coils of wire and vehicle tires littered around. Mussels encrust most of the raised structures.

Entry into the fo’c’sle head can also be accessed from the main deck and leads to the seamans quarters-where bed frames can still be found

Holds 1 and 2 have two ‘tween decks with large numbers of tyres on the upper shelves. The deeper section of the holds contain wooden crates some containing hundreds of brass detonator caps. There are also hundreds of  heavy rubber bases, their purpose a s yet not defined. Winches flank the holds, and in the second hold there are several vehicles, heavily encrusted , but appear to be cabs with extended chassis, possibly tank transporters

MISR (ex HMS PALAU, ex S.S MALROUK))

(ex-Tricoma Class Patrol Frigate/British Colony Class Frigate)

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).
  • Armament:
    • 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

Narrative:

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 defense 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.

Triicoma Class Patrol Frigate/British Colony Class Frigate: (MC Type T. S2-S2-AQ1) Originally authorized as Patrol Gunboat, PG-192; Redesignated as a Patrol Frigate and named Howett (PF-84), 15 April 1943; Laid down under a Maritime Commission contract at Walsh-Kaiser Co., Inc., Providence, RI; Assigned to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease Program; Launched 10 October 1943; Transferred to the Royal Navy and commissioned HMS Papua (K 588), 25 July 1944; Returned to U.S. custody 15 April 1946; Sold for scrapping to Boston Metals, Baltimore, MD; Resold in 1950 to Khedivial Mail Lines, Alexandria, Egypt and renamed SS Malrouk; Acquired by Egypt, rearmed and commissioned as Misr; Sank after a collision in the Gulf of Suez 17 May 1953.

Specifications: Displacement 1,190 t.; Length, 303′ 11″(oa); Bean 37′ 6″; Draft 13′ 8″; Speed 20kts; Complement 190; Armament three 3″/50AA gun mounts, two twin 40mm gun mounts , nine 20mm guns, 1 Hedgehog depth charge projector; eight Y-gun depth charge projectors, two depth charge racks; Propulsion, two 5,500 iHP turbines, two shafts, three boilers.

PRIDE OF AL SALAM

18th October 2005

Former Pride of Ailsa Lost After Collision at Sea

The former Larne – Cairnryan ferry Pride of Al Salam 95 (ex Pride of Ailsa) was lost around 1930 local time on the evening of the 17/10/05 after colliding with a container ship near the Egyptian harbour of Port Tawfiq.

The Pride of Al Salam 95, owned by El Salam Maritime Transport of Egypt, had left the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah on the 16/10/05 with around 1466 people onboard, mainly Egyptians returning home after performing the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The ferry was at sea awaiting safe passage to enter the port of Suez when she was rammed by the Cypriot registered cargo ship Jebal Ali, which had just cleared the southern part of the Suez Canal after passing through the canal from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

The cargo ship ran into the side of the ferry, tearing a 5m diameter hole in her side in the vicinity of the engine room. After the collision, both ships locked together so the ferry remained afloat long enough for the passengers to board the cargo ship and from there be transferred ashore by a flotilla of rescue vessels. Once the two vessels broke apart when the cargo ship went astern after evacuating all the ferry passengers and crew, the Pride of Al Salam 95 sank in around 3½ minutes.

Former Pride of Ailsa pictured entering Larne after another sailing from Cairnryan on 4/5/95. Photo: Alan Geddes (click to enlarge).After withdrawal from service at Larne in June 1996, the Pride of Ailsa was sold to El Salam Maritime of Egypt, becoming their Pride of Al Salam 95. The vessel was mainly engaged ferrying pilgrim traffic between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. She is pictured here in Suez Roads by European Causeway’s purser Dave Blair when the new Larne – Cairnryan ferry was on her delivery voyage from Japan to Larne in August 2000. For her new role the upper vehicle deck was converted into two decks of cabins and new promenade decks were created by extending the passenger accommodation over the poop deck.

 

Reports suggest that up to 11 people may have died in the incident, killed either by the impact of the collision or in the stampede as passengers attempted to get to safety as quickly as possible. At least a further 98 of the ferry’s passengers were being reported as injured. Damage to the Jebal Ali was reported to be slight and their are no casualties among her crew. Although sinking in the approaches to the southern entrance to the Suez Canal, the wreck of the Pride of Al Salam 95 has not blocked the canal and is now marked by buoys.

 

Steel triple screw motor vessel, built by N.V. Werf “Gusto”, Schiedam, (Yard No. CO 881) for Townsends in 1972 as a passenger and roll-on-roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry. Engined by Stork-Werspoor Diesel, Amsterdam. Launched January 29th, 1972.


DIVE INFO Wreck lies on her port side, huge gash in hull gives acces to engine room. 4 Life boats still attached at one end ,”hang” vertically only a few mtrs below the surface.Discovered by Peter Collings while living on a faluka with local fishermen!

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