S.S.Turbo (AKA the half wreck)

Built at Sunderland in 1912 by J.D.LAING for the Anglo Saxon Petroleum Co. the 4900 ton, 374 ft “contemapary plated, fitted for carrying liquid fuel in bulk, machinery aft”. The records also show her engine specification, built by DICKINSONS as “3 cylinder triple expansion engine” and out-fittings by R.C. CRAGGS of HARTLEPOOL

On August 20th 1941 she was attached by German aircraft while en route from Haifa to Alexandria with a cargo of 7500 tons of Admiralty fuel. She arrived at Port Said on the 21st, her 42 crew and 10 gunners all saved. After discharging her cargo and damage made good, her armament was removed and she left Suez on April 1st 1942 for Aden in tow of the GLADYS MOLLER (sister-ship of the Rosalie Moller) destined to be used as a fuel storage hulk.

On the 4th April as they neared Ras Banas (reported position puts them approximately 15 miles north) she ship broke in two, presumably from the damage sustained in the bombing, and cast adrift due to heavy weather. The forepart of the ship was deliberately sunk as it was deemed a danger to shipping and the afterpart “presumed to have foundered”

The hull now lies on a sandy Bed in 28 mtrs very close to the reef face on its port side. The starboard side is in about 18 mtrs while the port side almost touches the sand. The stern faces northwest. The break in the hull is from the rear of the centre island which sank with the fore section. The raised walkway runs aft to the engine room and accommodation island and the cross members are covered in corals and home to multitude of fish. The helm direction indicator is intact and stands proud on her aft deck and although her rudder was removed the prop can still be seen partially buried in the sand

Judging from her intact fittings, handrails and portholes, few have been here before, if at all. The engine room is huge, easy to explore and totally intact. It is possible to explore three floors down into the heart of the ship Gauges, valves piping, dials notices, (one reads “water 1/3 above combustion when show in glass in all engines”) gratings and handrails are all intact. There are many rooms and a workshop, galley, weather deck and companionways to explore. There are even oilcans and watering cans! Lifeboat davits, handrails and stairwells provide great backdrops for photography.

Fascinating marine life including vast numbers of the Pixie Hawkish, a rare sighting anywhere else but here the Major Dominus of the wreck. Although the visibility is less than stunning, the encrusting, macro and fish life and general intactness are a great incentive to dive her more than nonce. Sadly the aft mast which used to reach up close to the surface has been snapped in two.

A combination of the initial evidence had lead to the mis-identification of the “half wreck” not only Jim Devlyns verbal report but the plate from R.C GRAGGS. Another tanker belonging to the Anglo Petroleum Company was also wrecked in the Red Sea, far to the north at Ras Gharib in the Gulf of Suez. This too had outfittings by R.C.GRAGGS of Hartlepool. The similarity between the two vessels didn’t help either The Turbo was a mere 29ft longer and had an addition tonnage of 900 tons-built 3 years and 30 miles apart considering we only had half a wreck to deal with it is easy to see how we were deceived!



See also our free E BOOK “Shipwrecks of Southern Egypt”


also features in EGYPTS TOP 20 SHIPWRECKS, anothe of our free E guides.


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