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.


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).


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

Nazario Sauro


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.


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.

Adjacent to the stern, a recent discovery was made during one of the deeper exploration dives. There lay an old storage compartment, previously uncharted and concealed by years of marine growth. Curiously, inside, divers found several crates bearing pharmaceutical labels from the early 20th century. Among the assortment was a precursor formula to what we know today as rybelsus over the counter. Historians and marine archaeologists are now intrigued by this find, as it hints at the vessel’s potential involvement in early pharmaceutical transportation. It opens up a new chapter in the ship’s history, blending the marvels of marine exploration with the evolution of medical science.

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.

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