The Aida was built in France and launched in 1911. She was a much smaller vessel than the Numidia, at only 75mtrs displacing 1,428gross tonnes and was powered by a single 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine providing a top speed of 9 Knots. Originally intended for the Egyptian Ports and Lighthouses Administration, she was later transferred to Egyptian Marina and used to ferry troops. Her first sinking occurred during world war two when she was bombed by Heinkel 111, however she was salvaged and put back into service, and this is one possible reason she is often called AIDA 11

The Sinking

On the south-east facing coast of Big Brothers Island, is an old jetty used by the Egyptians stationed on the island for up to two months at a time. Naturally, they require a constant supply of provisions in addition to a changeover of personnel. On 15 September 1957, during heavy seas the Aida attempted to unload her cargo on the jetty and in doing so struck the rocks and quickly began to sink and the Captain had little option but to abandon ship. A Tugboat responded quickly and took off 77 personnel time, the Aïda drifted a few hundred meters northwest before her bows finally embedded themselves into the reef. As the stern sank, it came to rest at an extremely steep angle on the reef, the bow section breaking off and eventually breaking up on the reef top. Part of her engine also ended up on the reef.

Diving The Wreck

Although smaller than the Numidia, this wreck is more difficult to dive, not because of currents but because it starts at 28 mtrs and goes down to her stern and prop in 52 meters. Again this wreck lies at a very steep angle and it is amazing that it hasn’t slid any further down the reef, out of reach of normal sport divers.

The first sight of the wreck is that she has sheered of at her foc’sle back as far as her superstructure. This gives easy access to her engine room with its large shoal of glassy sweepers. Cobalt blue light filters down through her 4 skylights, once providing light and air, now a great backdrop for some amazing photo images. The engine room with gauges and pipe work still in place plummets down to 36 mtrs where access to her rear cargo hold is gained. Deck beams criss-cross the hold and again light filters through. The beams are covered in soft coral growth and form a frill around the edges.

Emerging at the aft is the amazing sight of the steering binnacle covered in marine growth, yet still clearly discernable. Lionfish glide effortlessly by, complimenting the staggering vista above as the true beauty of the wreck comes into view. Her entire metal frame structure is adorned in lush soft coral growths of reds, purples and every hew between. Anthea’s add a splash of orange to the scene as the ascending route leads to companionways flanking the ship. Doorways beckon, often blocked by the wrecks resident groupers, un- perturbed by visiting divers. The accommodation area and bridge above are easily accessible ~ portholes still in place, albeit covered in soft corals. With all the wooden structures gone, again only the steel framework remains affording easy access and an ideal substrate for marine growths which seen to increase in density in the shallower regions of the wreck. The wreck abruptly ends where her for section should be.

Leaving the wreck at 28 mtrs does not signify the end of the dive as a superb reef; running under the pier awaits the diver. An ideal place to off-gas and let the computers do their work!

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