On our way to SS Thistlegorm wreck, Ras Mohammed, Egypt


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Saturday, June 02, 2007

SS Thistlegorm - Red Sea, Egypt
The Thistlegorm was discovered in 1956 by Jacques Cousteau and is probably the most famous wreck in the world. It sank in 1941 when it was hit by a German bomb that blew a hole in the port side, igniting tank ammunition that was in the hold. The explosion ripped the roof of the ship backwards, rather like opening a tin of sardines. The stern section of the wreck lies almost horizontal to the sea bed; the remainder of the wreck is nearly upright. Inside the wreckage, tyres, tanks, motorbikes, Bedford trucks, waders and wellington boots can be seen. Penetration is possible around the bridge and blast area. The large prop is still in position and the guns on the stern are in excellent condition. Artillery litters the blast area. A bath tub can be seen towards the bow and a toilet near the stern. The sea life is impressive with possibility of seeing tuna overhead the resident turtle.

When she sank she was carrying a wide range of supplies ranging from rubber boots to an armoured Rolls Royce. Bedford trucks, Universal Carrier armoured vehicles, BSA & Norton motorcycles, Bren guns, cases of ammunition, and 0.303 rifles laid muzzle to butt as well as radio equipment, aircraft parts, and LMS Stanier Class 8F steam locomotives can still be seen.

Currently, the wreck is rapidly disintegrating due to natural rusting. Years of divers plundering the wreck for souvenirs have stripped the Thistlegorm of many of its artefacts; for example, most of the trucks have lost their steering wheels. The dive boats that rely on the wreck for their livelihood are also tearing the wreck apart by mooring the boats to weak parts of the wreck leading to parts of the wreck collapsing. In December 2007 the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) began work on installing permanent mooring buoys and drilling holes in the wreck to allow trapped air to escape. The aim of this conservation work is to prevent further damage to the wreck.

The wreck of the Thistlegorm is located at 27° 49' 03" N, 33° 55' 14"E. Northeast of Shag Rock, Sha’ab Ali. It can be reached by Day or Safari boat from Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada.

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