Salem Express

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:

egypt_wreck_salem_15

“Salem Express”, an Egyptian ferry, left the port of Jeddah on December 16, 1991, carrying hundreds of passengers, mostly pilgrims, and vehicles. Based in Port Safaga, she used to provide ferry services between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

As night fell, the weather turned extremely windy. Trying to ease the substantial discomfort of the passengers, the captain navigated the boat northward close to the shore, reaching the area between the shore and the Hyndman Reefs by midnight, a treacherous route even in calm weather. They were only about 10km from their destination of Port Safaga. It was impossible to see the reefs ahead and the boat struck one of the southern reefs.

The impact created a huge rip, about 10m long, in the forward hull and opened the hatch to the car deck, allowing tremendous amounts of water to rush into the vessel through not one but two entry points. It took only 20 minutes for the ferry to give in and sink. There was no time to even deploy the life rafts. Many people perished while others tried to swim to safety in the brutal weather. What helped was that the currents were actually carrying them toward the shore. From the 650 persons (official record), 180 survived. The captain, who could have provided answers as to what had really happened, lost his life along with most of the passengers.
Efforts were made to remove the remaining bodies from the wreckage but once the operation had become too dangerous, the wreck was sealed by the navy from further entry. To this day, dive guides do not permit divers to enter the wreck as it is considered to be a cemetery of sort.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:


egypt_wreck_salemIn size she almost mirrors the Thistlegorm and she is one of the larger wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea. She rests at about 30m on the seabed on her starboard side. It is easy to swim around the large wreck and investigate the superstructure. The infamous hatch to the car deck still lies open as if waiting to load and unload vehicles.

The upper port side of the wreck is at about 10m. Many doors are visible that used to allow entry to the inside which are now sealed. There is a chance to look inside the wreck through the windows of the bridge though there is not much to see as all moveable items had fallen onto the starboard side, which is now the bottom. The portside propeller is an awesome sight. It has not been colonised yet by the usual sea organisms one can find on older wrecks. However the starboard propeller, under the hull, has become home to beautiful red corals.
The dive is more exciting over the railings, on the port side. The main deck is in very good condition and it provides an impressive view, especially in the morning light of the sun. When swimming down the starboard side into the deeper waters, a few life boats are visible on the seabed, still attached to the boat by ropes. From here the two huge funnels, connected by a stabiliser, are also visible with their large “S” marks.
The aft deck, where deck passengers were stationed, used to be shaded from the sun by corrugated iron roofing the remains of which now lie scattered on the seabed.
The wreck is already covered by beautiful hard corals and is home to a large colony of fish. Shoals of sweet lips swim around the stern section keeping company with angelfish, butterfly fish and goatfish. In the sand blue-spotted stingrays slither around.

Sudan scuba diving Liveaboard

We are preparing our next season in SUDAN FOR 2014. We are planning 18 diving weeks. Our Sudan itineraries have been expanded with the one-of-a-kind true adventure 1-week and 2-week DEEP SOUTH TOUR and the exciting ULTIMATE SUDAN TOUR with the combination of North and South dive sites. And we still offer the traditional NORTH AND SOUTH TOURS from which to choose.

Take a luxury liveaboard with us and explore the most interesting dive sites of the Red Sea. Compare to the rest of the boats sailing in Sudan we have some additional benefits that are guaranteed to get the best services:

  • Dive Sites: Our itineraries include dive sites all the way from Angarosh and Abington in the north to as far as the most southern Sudanese site of Dahrat Ebid near the Eritrean border.
  • Unique itineraries: We are the only ones offering 1-week and 2-week tours in the Deep South of Sudan.
  • Diving: You can enjoy 3 day dives and a free night dive every day.
  • Safety: Ours are the only liveaboards (M/Y Cassiopeia and M/Y Andromeda) with a lost diver search and locate security system.
  • Speed: We are the fastest boats in the region, enabling us to reach the most remote sites.
  • Comfort: Our 100m2 sun deck is your ultimate escape to take it easy. 24h aircondition onboard.
  • Relaxation: We offer free delicious shisha onboard in our shisha room.
  • Fun: You can rent scooters onboard to make your dives even more exhilarating.
  • Boat: Our boat is made of steel, which is a necessary feature on the Sudanese Red Sea.
  • WIFI onboard M/Y Andromeda and M/Y Cassiopeia

Our newly designed sudan-diving.com Web page’s English version is operational! Click here if you have not seen it yet. Please e-mail us for booking information or availability: online@cassiopeiasafari.com

Our safari tours in Sudan:

Dive sites in the Sudanese Red Sea
Dive sites in the Sudanese Red Sea

Urania

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:


eritrea_wreck_urania2In the 1930s, during the wars in Africa, the Urania was used as a troopship. Just like the Nazario, she was trapped in the Red Sea in 1940, when Italy officially entered the war. She was immediately laid up at Massawa but with Eritrea about to fall into British hands, the ship was moved to the Dahlak Islands and was sunk on April 10, 1941.

Initially powered by two triple-expansion steam engines, capable of producing 853 NHP and a top speed of 14 knots, she was refitted with an oil-fired system in 1924.
Her name was changed to “Genova” in 1923 and to “Urania” in 1933. She was refitted to accommodate 60 passengers in first class, 139 in second class and 200 in third class. However she was still too small and not powerful enough to compete with the huge trans-Atlantic ships and she was used for service between Italy and her colonies in Africa and the East.

The Urania rests in shallow waters, lying on her port side. The starboard side behind the bridge is at surface level. There is a large hole on this side, probably caused by the explosion when sinking the vessel.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:


eritrea_wreck_urania3The bow section is the deepest part of the wreck, resting on the seabed at 23m. The entire metal structure is coated with thick coral encrustations which are home to a diverse selection of life forms and making this a virtual coral reef.

Between the two forward cargo holds the main mast is still virtually intact and lies along the seabed complete with a crow’s nest. The deck winches at the base of the mast are also still in their places. Next to this part on the seabed can be found a huge chainless anchor which is presumed to be a spare one. The port- and starboard-side anchor chains hide a marvellous life of anemones, sea lilies, hard coral sponges, sea urchins and various fish. The bows are intact and covered with sea-whips. The cargo holds are empty but the hatches are open, allowing for entry but with great care as the wreck is in a state of collapse.
The most exciting part of the dive are the accommodations areas. While the ship was laid up in Massawa for about a year, almost all usable parts and commodities had been removed. Now the wreck holds only the basic structure however a swimming pool is still visible left behind after upgrading amenities along with a bathtub.

The empty aft cargo holds are also open. From here the rear mast stretches into the sea and lies on the seafloor. Since this part of the wreck is at water surface, there is considerable damage to the decks. This part is kind of collapsed onto itself and it is difficult to piece together which parts belonged to where exactly. However a rich bird population has claims over this area. There are storks, herons, seagulls, kingfishers and countless other bird species. The aft section hides the huge rudder and the propeller shaft supports (the propellers are long gone).

Credit:

http://videoboomboom.com  http://it.wikipedia.org  www.deep-turtle.ch  Andrea Ghisotti

Nazario Sauro

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:

eritrea_wreck_nazario2By 1927 unable to compete with the more advanced transatlantic vessels, the Nazario was taken out of service until 1934.

She was re-commissioned and made transports between Italy and her East African territories like Somalia and Eritrea.

In 1940 Italy entered the War and in fear of falling into the hands of the British, Nazario and several other Italian ships tried to make their way back to Italy.

Some ships ended up being captured by the British while others remained near the Dahlak Islands as did Nazario. She was supposedly sunk by allied bombings during the 1941 campaign.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:

eritrea_wreck_nazario5The wreck was first discovered in the 1960s. This large ship sits in a perfect upright position on an even keel. Her deepest part lies at about 39m deep on the seabed. The wreck is largely intact due to her sheltered position.

The two main holds in the bows are easy to access due to the hatch covers being gone. Although empty, the holds provide and interesting trip into the insides of the ship where thousands of glassfish make their home. The main mast still stands and its top is only about 3m from the water surface. Below the mast the deck winches are still in place and the loading booms are stowed.

Beyond the bridge can be found the remains of four large engine room ventilators as well as of the large funnels. Below them are several rooms and compartments that can be explored. Visibility can get murky here.

In the stern section is the third hold, right before the rear mast. This hold is also empty and the winches and cargo booms are in their places. Way in the back the giant rudder is still intact but the twin-propellers are missing.

What make the wreck unique are some of her parts and sections that are completely undisturbed such as kitchen equipment in the galley, the ballroom staircase, music instruments and medical supplies in the ship’s infirmary.

The wreck of Nazario is a beautiful dive not only due to her size but also to the beautiful marine life here. All the railings are intact and everything is encrusted in soft and hard corals and other marvellous organisms. Sea whips are gorgonians are abundant here along with a pulsing fish life.

Credit:
http://portal.unesco.org  http://www.superscuba.it/wrecker/disegni/  http://lusignolo.wordpress.com/  www.deep-turtle.ch  Andrea Ghisotti