Using a combination of advanced diving technology and old trusty wreck finding methods, a team from Red Sea Explorers successfully discovered a virgin shipwreck in the strait of Gubal on February 25th 2018.
Without a doubt the Egyptian Red Sea is one of the most dived oceans in the world. You would think by now that all its secrets were revealed and that all areas are fully explored. On the other hand, the Red Sea is one of the busiest sailing passages in the world, so it is no wonder that a lot of ships have ended up on the bottom in the Strait of Gubal since the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869. However most of the lost vessels lie in depths outside the range of recreational diving and it takes a lot of dedication and effort to find them. Finding new wrecks in the Red Sea is therefore a rare occurrence.
With the help of a local fisherman, the Red Sea Explorers team had a promising position to investigate. A special week of exploration was planned with a team of divers capable of doing extended range diving in open water with strong currents and rough surface conditions. The fact that many of the positions were in one of the busiest sailing lanes in the Red Sea only added to the challenge.
The fisherman had a very solid knowledge of the position and could describe details of the wreck on the basis of the pieces of debris pulled up by his angling tools.
The first attempt to reach the wreck was aborted because the current on the bottom made it impossible. After 20 minutes scootering on full throttle against a ripping current while following a line on 65 meters, the team had to give up. But the sonar image on the support vessel,MV Nouran one of the liveaboards in the Red Sea Explorers fleet, was so tempting and alluring that it was decided to make another attempt later the same day hoping that the current would have lessened and conditions improved.
Imagine the thrill the team experienced when they reached the bottom on 77 meters and discovered that the shot line was just a few meters away from a structure that turned out to be the wreck of a large steam ship.
So far, the wreck has not been identified. We know it is a steam ship, probably late 1800. It appears younger than the Carnatic and the Ulysses, but she is probably older than the Dunraven, judging by the size of the boiler. The tidal current that rips on the bottom of the relatively shallow strait of Gubal has taken its toll on the wreck and everything taller than 5-6 meters has collapsed. The super structure and decks are gone, but the hull and bow are still standing proud. The team were looking for details to help the identification but found no smoking guns. Now it is up to the historians and wreck experts to dive into the archives and see if they can find a match based on the information gathered by the team.
The marine life on the wreck is spectacular. There is very little protection against the strong current on the sandy bottom around the site, so the wreck offers shelter that makes the marine life thrive. The hull is filled with glass fish chaperoned by enormous groupers and lion fish. Large giant trevallies are roaming the area and they are visible on the sonar. No wonder the area is an attractive fishing ground.
The international explorers team consisted of Faisal Khalaf (Lebanon), Jesper Kjøller (Denmark), Sameh Sokar (Egypt), Igor Siryk (Ukraine) and Michel Salsmans, (Belgium), Antar (Expedition Dog).
What we know so far:
Location: North of Gobal Island, West of the Traffic Separation Scheme in the Northern Red Sea at the mouth of the Gulf of Suez.
Ship Type: Steam Ship maybe with sail rigging
Ship Design: Unknown
Dimensions: Length approx. 70-90 meters; beam approx. 10 – 15 meters wide.
Orientation: Sitting bow pointing north West
Topography: The wreck is sitting in a flat sandy
Depth: From 62-76 meters.
Very Difficult/Advanced. Hypoxic Trimix Dive.
Lots of current, both on the surface and on the wreck.
Windy surface conditions make it tricky on the surface.
Expect difficulty hooking the wreck due the current small size of the wreck.
Visibility is 15 meters; 10 meters at depth.
Returning to the up-line is a must as drifting divers will be in the way of the massive cargo ships coming up and down the channel.
Life on the wreck:
The wreck itself is covered with glassfish.Giant trevally followed the divers around the wreck. The rich murky water makes it an excellent feeding and breeding ground.
This is what we have so far. We will be diving on her again soon, stay tuned for more news.