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SS Thistlegorm shipwreck

5 fascinating shipwrecks in the Red Sea

Image: SS Thistlegorm |

The Red Sea is a significant waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. It is known for its exceptional coral reefs and carnivorous marine life, but it is also home to some fascinating shipwrecks, ready for divers to explore. Here are some of the most fascinating shipwrecks at the bottom of the Red Sea.

1. SS Carnatic

The SS Carnatic ran aground in 1869, which makes it the oldest discovered wreck in the region. Its final resting place lies at the Abu Nuhas reef and its age means it is a literal skeleton of a ship, with everything on display. The ribs of the ship’s hull are completely coated in hard and soft corals, making it an enjoyable wreck to dive into and swim around.

Schools of glassfish are common around the SS Carnatic and you may also see the occasional wine bottle, the only surviving relics of the ship’s former cargo. In 1869 the ship struck and remained lodged in the coral reef, eventually breaking in half and resulting in 31 deaths.

2. SS Thistlegorm

The SS Thistlegorm is one of the most fascinating and sobering of all wrecks in the Red Sea. It is both a war grave and a fascinating example of military history. The Thistlegorm sits in the Straits of Gubal in the north of the Red Sea.

It is recognised as one of the most iconic wrecks in the area with good visibility of around 30 metres. You can spot the bow of the ship at around 15 metres below the surface. The warm waters and its tragic story make the Thistlegorm a favourite for divers worldwide.

A scuba diver inside the SS Thistlegorm
SS Thistlegorm |

3. Rosalie Moller

The Rosalie Moller was originally launched in 1910 but sank during World War II. It was during the war that she was recalled to Liverpool and took on the role of delivering coal to Royal Navy bases. She was waiting for a clear passage in the Red Sea when German bombers hit, sinking her just 48 hours after the attack on SS Thistlegorm.

The Rosalie Moller sits upright on the seabed, around 45 metres deep. Many elements of the ship can be explored by drivers, with railings fully intact and the captain’s safe lying broken open on the floor.

4. The Dunraven

The Dunraven was an interesting kind of British vessel due to the multiple ways it could set sail. The Dunraven could be powered by sail or steam and was first launched in 1873. She was a general cargo ship, regularly transporting goods from Liverpool to India. However, in 1876, the Dunraven hit a huge rock while heading towards the Suez Canal.

The shipwreck now sits at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The bottom part of the wreck is around 30 metres underwater, and divers need to watch out for the strong current.

5. The Kingston

The Kingston is a steamship wrecked on the Shag Rock reef. It hit land in 1881 after running into shallow water. She lies at depths of 10 to 20 metres, making her a popular choice for less experienced divers.

The Kingston’s many years underwater have transformed it into a living coral reef, with amazing coral gardens and plenty of marine life living amongst its remains.

Top Facts about The Red Sea

The Red Sea’s close connection to the Suez Canal makes it an important waterway for freight ships. Here are some more interesting facts about The Red Sea:

  • The Red Sea is absolutely huge (and deep)

The Red Sea measures 2,250 kilometres in length and 355 kilometres in width at its widest. The surface area of the sea is 430,000 square kilometres. Its average depth is 490 metres but once you reach the deepest point, the Suakin Trough, it measures 3,040 metres deep.

  • Water temperature stays high all year

The average surface water temperature of the Red Sea is around 26 °C in the north and 30 °C in the south. In colder months temperatures don’t drop too much, just a couple of degrees or so.

  • The Red Sea is a diverse and unique ecosystem

There are over 1,200 recorded species of fish living in the Red Sea, with more than 10% of these found nowhere else in the world. This is in addition to over 200 different soft and hard corals, creating a unique and fascinating ecosystem.

  • There are volcanoes hiding beneath the waves

The centre of the Red Sea is home to several volcanic islands. The majority are dormant but this isn’t always the case. 2007 saw Jabal al-Tair Island in the Bab el Mandeb strait erupt violently. An eruption often results in the formation of new islands. In 2011 and 2013, two new islands were also formed in the Yemeni Zubair Archipelago.

  • No one knows for sure why it’s called the Red Sea

There is no definitive reason as to how the Red Sea got its name. Some believe the orange flowers and algae that sit beneath the waves are the reason, while others say it takes its name from the reddish-coloured mountains in the distance towards Harei Edom.