M.V.Marcus (Aka The Tile Wreck)

Over the past 15 years the Tile wreck issue has been the centre of much discussion. I have to admit that at first I accepted what had been published before ,but as I started to dive the tile wreck weekly, I began to doubt what was written before. Since 1991 I had conducted over 500 (conservative estimate) safaris in the northern Reed Sea. Every trip offers guest the opportunity to view all the facts –and they are challenged to prove me wrong. Experts from all over the world have agreed with my finding. In November of 2005 a similar group were on board and the full facts including Jablonski’s account of both sinkings were presented, along with a mass of visual evidence backed up with a visit to the wreck. The group were once again asked if they could disagree with any of the findings. No one came forward, as usual they were all in agreement with the facts. NOT EVEN MR JOHN BANTIN, expert in all things diving had any comments! Ithink the folllwing facts will put this issue to bed once and for all

1)A group of North East divers visited Sharm in 1978, their fisherman skipper wanted to show them a new wreck and retrieve some cargo. He took them to Sha’ab abu Nuhas-there they found a wreck partially submerged-her cargo Italian tiles. Not only did the skipper get the tiles he wanted but he “acquired” the ships bell, inscribed with her original name, date and place of birth.(her full history therefore unfolded and has indeed been published!)

2) In 1981 the Chrisoula K ran aground almost in the same spot, her bow section standing proud until dispersed in 1985/6(unconfirmed) by the Navy as reported in Diver by Lawson Wood.

3) In 1983 I took several photographs from the bridge of the Giannis D as she sank-it shows clearly 3 bows KIMON N MARCUS, CHRISOULA K

4)MIDDLETON in his article in SPORT DIVER on the “TILE WRECK”

“Being severely damaged, however she broke into two separate parts, with the much larger rear section falling back and sinking”. “ Curiously ,with its port anchor deployed the bow remained on top of the reef”, and off course he was absolutely correct!

SO WHERE IS THE BREAK IN THE FORE SECTION OF THE WRECK????????

Another report tells of how the safe from the Chrisoula K was found lying upright on the seabed 50 mtrs away-it had been unbolted from the floor. Why? Surly any valuables could have been removed –or was it to ensure the wreck was positively identified

Anyone diving the tile wreck while this bow was on the reef could be forgiven for not noticing the wreck below still had (and still has to this day) her bow attached!

6)Now anyone visiting the tile wreck will be confused because her bow is still in place attached to the main body of the hull, WITH THE STARBOARD ANCHOR OUT! and it is plain to see the derricks from the Chrisoula K lying on top of those from the tile wreck or the M.V MARCUS to give her real name.

Despite all the undeniable evidence including the dispersed bows lying to the side of the Marcus’s bow I continued to research the activities of a Greek shipping company connected to these two vessels and two more supposed wrecking came to light-that of the M.V ELPHINKI and M.V . VIKKI K. The former supposedly sinking in the Med, while the later, the Vikki K sinks in the Red Sea. Three months later the Vikki K is seen discharging cargo at Suez by insurance investigators and her owner is later found guilty in his absence in a Greek court of insurance fraud and sentenced to 3 years in prison. He has never been caught.

6)My research also lead to a very unfortunate seaman-Stephan Jablonski-he was on board all four vessels when they sank!- and living proof of two tile wrecks! A trip to Poland proved very fruitful-Stephans story was quite incredible- and a good reason to retire.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing that island (Shadwan)and reef (Abu nuhas) again”

Stranded there twice in three years” . If you want to read these facts in more detail get a copy of H20 “A survivors tale”

7) the fore derricks of the Chrisoula K lie on top of the Marcus

· 8) The engines in the tile wreck differ from those fitted to the Chrisoula K.

· 9)In the year 2000 Ali Baba, Mohammed Farouk joined Peter Collings and successfully located the main body of the Chrisoula K some 600 mtrs. out from the reef in deep water.

Now he gives us this bizarre tale from a first hand account of a lucky sailor:

One of the most popular diving areas in the world has to be ABU NUHAS. Its proximity to Hurghada, El Gouna and Sharm has ensured its claim to fame. For years there has been utter confusion over the identity of two of the wrecks; the “Kimon M” (lentil wreck) and the very popular “Tile wreck”.

Despite the undisputable facts published back in 1996, there are still publications emerging with the incorrect identity of the tile wreck at ABU NUHAS. Guide books, dive maps and even a CD ROM, still wrongly quote the tile wreck as the CHRISOULA K. This only goes to increase the confusion.

A quick look at some of the wrecks in Egyptian waters which have a familiar ring to them: “Greek vessel changes name, owner, reinsured, runs aground”. Giannis D, Chrisoula K, Kimon M,

Million Hope, Zingara, Hamada, etc, etc, all have suffered this fate, bad seamanship, co-incidence or some thing else?

For those who are not yet convinced that the tile wreck is indeed the MARCUS (not MARKOS which was a previous name of the Giannis D), I enclose below a letter from a Polish seaman who had the misfortune to have been shipwrecked 4 times in two years in the Red Sea.

“My name is Stephan Jablonski and I understand that some of my experiences as a ships engineer are of interest to sports divers and shipwreck historians such as Peter Collings. I understand that there has been much debate over the identity of some ships which I had worked on between 1971 and 1981. I hope that my story will help solve some of the mysteries.

I am retired now and have been for some 20 years but still recall the events of those years. It is difficult to forget being shipwrecked 4 times! Indeed in one year I had to abandon ship 3 times. It was then I decided to retire.

I had worked on many ships from the early 50’s, moving from one to another as ship owners sold vessels and shipping companies came and went. Some times it would be the same employer but trading under a different name and in some cases ships names would change during a working period. I worked on all kinds of vessels mainly very old steamships, usually general cargo vessels, which sometimes carried passengers. Most were Polish and Greek and many of my fellow Poles worked on these ships too, as there was much poverty back home in Poland. We were very much at the mercy of the employers and wages were not good but the sea was a better option than some of the jobs available back home.

In 1978 I was employed by the Vikki Shipping Line. They were a Greek merchant fleet, made up of very old ships. Most ships had a supply of photos of the vessel which could be used as postcards, and these were used by the crew to keep families back home informed of our travels. I have collected and kept one when ever I could.

Quite often the ship would have a different name on the postcard. (I have previously sent one of these to Peter because of his interest in the ships). It was on my third voyage for this company that I had my first experience of being shipwrecked, although I had been on board ships during many groundings and collisions. Hardly a voyage went by with out seeing or being involved in an incident.

In May of ‘78 I had been moved to a newly purchased vessel – a 4 hold freighter with 4 big offset generators. She was a real rust bucket (as my English crew mates would say) but the engines were well maintained. Seeing Peters underwater shots of the engine room brought back memories. It was the only ship I ever worked on with this kind of layout. It would be very eerie to go back – if I were fit and brave enough!

She was called the Marcus, I remember arriving and seeing her old name being painted out – only the last letters remained… SKY.Names seemed to change weekly on some vessels I don’t recall the K being fitted to her funnel, but they certainly were on the next three ships. There seemed to be some urgency in leaving. We were in ballast and heading for Italy – a regular run – to pick up floor tiles – stacked on pallets – bound for Saudi Arabia, some Sheiks palace no doubt! I always looked forward to this run because it took two days to load the cargo and there were some nice Italian ladies we had become friendly with!

We headed south through the Canal and with my shift over I went to bed. I was awakened in the early hours by a tremendous noise of screeching metal, utter panic and crew running everywhere. We had run aground on a reef. For the next 6 hours we tried to stop the water flooding into the ship. The engine room was in 6 ft of water and it was rising. The ship was settling by the stern and the accommodation block was soon underwater. By now several ships had stopped and had sent their boats to help. We abandoned the ship – I could not get back to retrieve my personal things and lost all my tools, but I had always carried my passport and important papers everywhere – vital for a Pole outside his country in those days. The Egyptians and Israelis were always suspicious and I didn’t fancy being shot as a spy. There was a big swell running and one of the life boats was washed onto the reef, although no one was badly hurt the coral was very sharp and the men had lots of cuts.

I didn’t know exactly where we were but it was near a big island to the west of the shipping lane. We were taken on board one of the vessels heading back for Suez. I was told that the ship had run out of control – a steering problem and caught in the swell had ran onto the reef.

After a month or so I got a new birth, and then in 1981 while working on the Elphinki I was again shipwrecked this time in the Mediterranean. Then in August I was on another cargo ship the Chrisoula and found myself reliving the journey of my first shipwreck. Off to Italy, although after taking on the cargo of tiles, we had to make an” emergency” stop. Syracuse I was later told.

The bridge reported warning lights on the instrument panels and although we found no faults on the engines we were ordered to make a full overhaul of the engines. That was a hard 18hr shift. Then we were given the all clear and the engines re started and we continued south through the Suez Canal, but we were much higher in the water. I was puzzled at this but now realize we had discharged the cargo. During my next shift I was working in the generator room when suddenly the ship ground to a halt and there was that now familiar sound of twisting screaming metal. I ran up onto deck and thought I was dreaming there was that island and again there was the same reef in front of us. We were still afloat but held fast by the bow and the swell was pushing the ship deeper into the reef. Although it didn’t seem as though we were sinking we were ordered into the boats. As we left I noticed the bow of my old ship the Marcus, sticking out of the water close by. I was later told that we had ran aground on Abu Nuhas. I decided at this point that I should retire and after being landed at Alexandria I returned home to Poland”.

The final piece of the puzzle was solved by a skipper onboard one of the safari boats I had worked on. As he watched my presentation of the wrecks at Abu Nu has he recalled seeing two tugs attempting to pull the Chrisoula K off the reef? The main section of the ship broke off, leaving the bow behind, and as the tugs surged forward the ship began to sink almost taking the tugs with it, it was this clue which prompted Ali Baba and me to go and look for the final piece of the puzzle. A bowless, tile-less wreck lying north of Abu Nuhas!

As for the larger section of the wreck It has been dived on several occasions by technical divers –We (myself ALI BABA and MOUHAMMED EL FAROUK) dived it several years ago. I will be diving her again in 2007 now I have a digital system rated to 100 mtrs, we intend to photo graph the engine room plate in situ and like all the other evidence ,will be made freely available on the web.

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