Cedar Pride History

Launched in 1964 at the S.A. Juliana Constructora in Gijon , Spain as the MONE DOS this 74 MTR long general cargo vessel of 1,161 tons served the Naviera Anzar Shipping Company of Bilboa, until 1969 when she became the PUERTO DE PASAJES, with a further name change in 1978 to the ST. BRUNO. .She was then purchased by the Lebanese Cedar Pride shipping company, taking on the company name~ her 4th and last. .

In July of 1982 she arrived at the Jordanian port of Aqaba, and on the 2nd August while at anchor and in ballast a fire spread rapidly through her engine room and accommodation area’s. Two of the crew lost their livesThe damage from the ensuing blaze left the ship as a total constructive loss, although her hull was still intact and she was still afloat. For the next three years she remained a floating hulk, no one accepting the responsibility for her mooring and harbour fees.

The King of Jordan himself, a keen diver, took an interest in the vessel and a plan was hatched to sink the ship, in the hope it would become a part of the reef, and a habitat for the rich marine life living in this quiet little backwater of the Red Sea.

It was 1985 interest in the Red Sea as a diving destination was growing daily. Airports at Hurghada and Sharm were now major gateways to diving area’s which had until then been very difficult to get to. Jordan already had a good tourist industry with attractions like the Dead Sea and Petra, the famous Rose city, hewn out of stone. It was time for diving to become a major part of that tourist attraction. What better than a wreck?

The ship itself was prepared by the port, pumping off oil, removing any hazards and so on, they did a very good job indeed, so divers would not have any problems in the future. Next a suitable site had to be found ,now this posed a bit of a problem, as their was no text book available on how to sink a ship in the red sea or any other sea ,on a coral reef causing as little damage to the reef as possible, with the ship in one piece and in the upright position, horizontal to the shore, with a dive ceiling of 20 to 30 meters from the resting area,

During my research for this feature I was able to interview JAMES FLAN who was given the task of sinking the ship.

“A meeting was called at my office at the Royal Palace, and was attended by the Captain of the royal yachts and the Jordanian coast guard commander, after a lot of deliberation we finally came up with a feasible plan that would work, provided sods law, gravity, or any other law would not intervene in the likely outcome.

Finding the site was not to big of a problem, coral their was plenty of, but a piece or stag of coral big enough and strong enough to stop a fully grown ship sliding off into the abyss was, as every red sea diver knows Ababa gulf is like a valley, I couldn’t help wondering how did Moses do that red sea trick of his, it would be very handy if he was a site consultant now. After about a week I selected 3 sites, which I figured would hold the ship in place, but bearing in mind that any one of them could snap under the weight and loose the ship for ever, it had been decided that the impact point on the sea floor, was to be somewhere between 10m to 20m in the sand above the coral stag, now in theory what should happen is when the keel of the ship hits the sand the sheer weight of it should embed itself, to what depth was anybodies guess”

“.The next phase was the sand should start to give on the slope pushing ahead of it a large mound of sand on the port side of the ship acting as a brake as it approached the stag of coral reducing the impact on it ,and coming to rest”

H.R.H.Prince Abdullah was the patron for this project, and arrived about a week before the sinking, to survey and pick one of the sites, as a very keen diver HRH was very aware of what lay ahead and its requirements, so we suited up and visited the sites it took a while and some discussion after the dive to decide on the site I now know it was worth it”.

The date set for the sinking, midday 16th November 1985 ,and just by chance this was my birthday, I figured not a lot of people have ships sunk on their birthday.


Cedar pride being towed out of port, by 2 tugs one forward and one aft to steer through other ships at anchor, it must be noted this was by no means easy, as this was at the height of the Iran Iraq war, so all munitions etc went through this port to Iraq, so a lot of skill, communications, and horse sense had to be applied by the port authorities and their people to weave around other ships at anchor to get to the site.


View of stern and starboard side, with steel rope from tug no2 this had to be kept short so tug no2 could act as the rudder, the H frame on the skyline shows from portside, Crows nest, Gps, Antenna array rigging, and Radar head.


This gives an idea how large this ship was, with aqaba in the background


The Jordanian coast guard at the ready with the charges,3 charges placed on the hull one forward one aft and one mid ships on the cargo bays below the water line, during its time at the port modifications were made to ensure that the flood water would transmit itself throughout the ship as evenly as could be judged.

A telescopic mobile crane and a large truck were anchored on the beach on the starboard side, aft and on the portside was a very large pontoon from the port, normally used for offloading ships at anchor, this was also anchored in a static position. Now phase one began to get the ship over the site, with the two tugs a lot of pulling and dragging ensued until everybody was happy.


With the ship firmly in place over the site it looked like a turkey, all trussed up and ready for the oven. It was time now to lay the charges, the lads moved in and spent about thirty minutes carefully placing each charge on a pre determined location, the time was set at thirty second intervals, starting on the bow, mid, aft, this gave sufficient time for the displacement of water and to try and balance the ship, now all the theories would be put to the test.

The Royal command was given for all systems go, I think every body had a vision of the ship being blown out of the water, what followed was 3 very muffled thuds and a few bubbles at the preset time, now all we had to do was wait, and wait we did.

About twenty minutes passed and things did not look good the ship had not moved one inch, so the lads were sent to have a look see and report back. The report was very good everything going to plan, its very reluctant to sink for the second time so give the lady a chance.en we started to notice a list at the stern, this was anticipated because of the weight of the engine room and the super structure,

Their was a lot of chatter now going on between all the craft about when to slack or let go of lines, pic 17 shows swimming to the ship with the standby rescue diver to make sure all lines cables were not snagged on anything .

Well the rest speaks for itself all went according to plan as can be seen from pics 21 to 27 the ship landed perfectly where it was supposed to after a lot of groaning , creaking and all sorts of other noises the job was over and we had a new man made reef in the gulf of Aqaba.”

Her new life as a living reef was about to begin….

The wreck settled on her port starboard side with her keel towards the shore, lying on two raised reefs, the hull forming a swim through., a sandy road flanked on either side by eel grass leads the way down to the wreck making navigation easy. Her masts running horizontal and seaward. A beautiful array of soft corals drape down from the hull, almost forming a curtain of reds and oranges against the blue background of the sea beyond. The photographer would be forgiven for not getting any further than this.

However ,swimming under the hull, and looking back and up reveals a magnificent sight: There lying on her side in full view is the intact ship, her masts and rigging covered in 15 years of coral growth, reaching out to seaward, the crows nest smothered in coral and surrounded with clouds of fish. A vibrant living reef ~just as the King had imagined. Again this feature alone demands a reel of film Abundant subject matter from the basket shape of the crows nest to tiny delicate nudibranchs, some of which are rare in other parts of the Red Sea, ensure that whatever lens is used there are subjects to be shot!

At 75 mtrs long, it is possible to swim the wreck in one dive, but this will give only a general overview. It takes several more dives to truly appreciate its full potential.

For the more advanced diver there are many interior sections of the wreck to explore, and it is possible to enter the foc’sle, bridge and engine room although this should not be done without a local guide. Companionways and corridors make great swim- throughs and photo opportunities and there would seem to be an endless choice of diver/ wreck images to capture on film.

The bow section still retains the deck fittings, anchor winches, and machinery, forming a playground for blue sailfin tangs, surgeon fish and the odd grouper. There is also a curious air pocket, with its mirrored interface, formed by divers bubbles becoming trapped on their journey to liberation 12 mtrs above.

The entire wreck has become home to many of the indigenous species or the Red Sea: giant moray eels, clown fish and their anemone hosts; inquisitive batfish, parrot fish, antheas, and every nook and cranny seems to be a habitat for one creature or another. Gobies utilizing small pipes and octopus using just about any small tight space they can squeeze into. Even the hawsers are full of surprises. Adorned with sponge and corals , a well disguised frogfish often sits perched like a bird on a branch, easy to miss but a great photographic subject for the observant.

Large shoals of fish hover by the masts and these now include snapper, double bar bream and fusiliers, which seem to be on the increase, due to restrictions in fishing. Some of the whip corals growing from the masts hold another surprise; the ornate ghost pipe fish hover inverted and almost hidden from view ~ rare treat indeed

It’s hard to believe that a rusting hulk could become such an object of natural beauty in such a short space of time. All eyes are now set on 4 Iraqi ships lying at anchor.. rusting away…… derelict…..I’ll keep you posted!!!!!!!!!1

Rod Abbotson runs Seastar Water sports and has a vast knowledge of the wreck, marine life and the area.

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