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

 

Blue Bell – Toyota wreck

The Blue Bell (sometimes spelled Blue Belt) was sailing from Jeddah to Port Sudan with her cargo of Toyota vehicles and spare parts (hence her other name, the “Toyota wreck”) when she struck the reef in 1977, about 75km north of Port Sudan. The huge, 103m long wreck lies overturned on the reef wall at a 30° angle, her keel facing upwards and her bow pointing toward the reef.

The wreck of Umbria

Since Port Sudan used to be one of the most important ports in the world, there are numerous exciting wrecks waiting to be discovered. One of them is Umbria, a large Italian vessel that lies on the sea bottom about 1 ½km from Port Sudan. She lies at 25m at about a 45-degree angle and in low tide the tips of her two masts even peek out of the water for an easy dive. About 18 tons of ammunition and explosives lie still in her cargo holdings along with half a million of Maria Teresa coins. Originally she was on her way to Eritrea with her cargo but she happened to set anchor in Sudan when Italy proclaimed war with the country. The British occupied the boat and they were about to order the Italians off Umbria when they got the news that she was sinking.

Precontinent II (Shaab Rumi)

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:

precontinent3The site chosen for the underwater village was at Shaab Rumi in the Sudanese Red Sea, about 35km from Port Sudan. The reef was the perfect choice for several reasons. Its marine life is one of the richest in the world.

The reef is long and narrow and there is a beautiful lagoon where the supply ships were able to remain anchored. Cousteau’s Calypso and the Italian Rosaldo were the floating base for the experiment. They had huge compressors, generators and many other equipment necessary for the project.

The location for the Precontinent II village was chosen to be close to the entrance to the lagoon, beside the external wall of the reef. The flat plateau provided the ideal place for the various structures which were built and assembled in Europe then transported to Sudan. The structures were fixed to the bottom by steel cables and 200 tons of lead.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:


precontinent8The Starfish House was where the 8-member team lived. It was equipped with crew quarters with bunk beds and general areas with a bathroom, tables, chairs, technical equipment and instruments.

The Sea Urchin (shaped as its namesake) was the hangar for the small submersible used to descend to 300m deep. The large dome was full of air and the submersible was able to slide in and out through the bottom opening.

The Shed was a long and narrow structure where tools, underwater scooters and all equipment were housed necessary for the divers on a daily basis.

The Submersible Cabin was where 2 divers at a time spent an entire week. On the lower level the divers got out of the water and their scuba gear and showered. On the upper level were their accommodations but with a lot less frills than in their home base, the Starfish. Even deeper, at around 50m shark cages were placed.

The Fish Coral housed an additional 25 other divers who performed various duties necessary for the upkeep of the structures and for the lives of the other 8 divers. They cooked, cleaned the outside of the structures from the fast-growing algae and seaweed and so on.

After the experiment the two ”houses” (the Starfish House and the Submersible Cabin) were dismantled along with the expensive equipment however the other structures still remain. The hangar, the Sea Urchin, dotted with round portholes, is overgrown by amazing coral formations. It stands on its legs and underneath is an access into the inside. Colonies of glassfish make their home here, attracted by the dark and shady insides. Once inside the air bubble, you can breathe on your own. The sounds echo inside the lunar-looking structure.

precontinent5The Fish Coral is richly covered by sponges and soft corals that take one’s breath away. Lionfish can be spotted here and on occasion, blue-spotted stingrays.

The tool shed is also covered with thick coral growth and around the structures are still visible the coral-encrusted steel cables that held them in place.

The shark cages are a bit deeper, at 30 and 50m. They are also coated with corals and crustacean. Although fish life is not as rich as in the 1960s, there is still plenty to see and even sharks can be spotted near the cages.