SS Thistlegorm, the best-preserved shipwreck in history

SS Thistlegorm,
the best-preserved shipwreck in history

 The remains of the Thistlegorm wreck have become a place of pilgrimage for all divers in the world. Shipwreck lovers from all over the world can’t help but travel to the Egyptian Red Sea again and again to visit this submerged wonder.

A series of wonderful coincidences and circumstances turned its remains into a perfect place for any type of diver. This is why the Thistlegorm is, today, one of the best wrecks for recreational diving worldwide.

The Thistlegorm wreck, a bit of history:

During World War II, Axis troops occupied the Mediterranean. German U-boats awaited convoys of supply ships at the entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar and planes patrolled from the southern Italian islands looking for prey to attack. The only safe way to resupply Allied troops in North Africa was to go around the African continent and enter the Red Sea.

Both the supply of material and that of troops were carried out using this alternative route.

The SS Thistlegorm leaves the port of Glasgow on June 2, 1941, in the direction of Alexandria, and after several weeks of a long journey, she manages to reach the Egyptian waters of the Red Sea safe and sound.
But not everything was going to be a bed of roses for our protagonist… another allied ship traveling the same route had collided, a few days before, with a submerged mine at the entrance to the Suez Canal, preventing the passage of the other convoys.

The Captain of the SS Thistlegorm, William Ellis, is ordered to anchor his ship in one of the safe zones established for this type of situation at the Egyptian Red Sea, the safe zone in the lagoon of Shaab Ali, in front of the Sinai Peninsula.

Built-in North East England in 1940 and sunk by German bomber aircraft in the Red Sea in 1941

A stroke of bad luck:

Meanwhile, the Germans had not ceased in their efforts to cut off enemy supply. His spies had reported that the largest cruiser in the British fleet, the Queen Mary, was headed with thousands of soldiers to North Africa, following the same route as the SS Thistlegorm. A great trophy for any of the German pilots eager for recognition and honors for which they had decided to lighten their planes, load fewer bombs and more fuel, and thus extend the range of their patrols.

On the night of October 6, 1941, 2 Heinkel He 111 bombers on patrol in the area looking for the Queen Mary, spotted the lights of a ship and decided to drop their bombs, one of them entering the ammunition hold of the Thistlegorm and sinking it in a few minutes together with 9 of his crew.

Shipwrecks attract divers and it is probably due to the mystery behind the sinking of an artifact that was made to float and navigate. If we add a tragedy and some historical problems, it has all the ingredients to become a good dive site that will attract many divers.

The SS Thistlegorm dive site:

After almost 10 years of resting under the sea, an expedition led by Commander Jacques Cousteau investigated the wreck, after interviewing some fishermen in the area, and obtained the approximate position of the sinking site.

Today, the SS Thistlegorm dive site is so popular that you cannot say that you have been to the northern Red Sea and not dived on it. The Blue Force fleet has many cruise routes in the area that include a visit to the wreck.

The boat is 32 m deep on a sandy bottom near the reef. The shallowest parts of the wreck are between 16 and 18 m deep. The dive is not difficult, but it should not be considered a beginner’s site, because some of the most iconic and interesting sections of the wreck are below deck, in the holds, which means diving under the roof. The still recognizable motorcycles and trucks are some of the most impressive sights on this site. We have seen many images of them but seeing them in person is unforgettable. Life on the wreck is abundant with many lionfish filling the shaded parts of the wreck. Large crocodile fish are easily seen on deck. Visibility is good depending on the season, ranging between 18 and 30 m.

 

The cargo, a submerged museum:

The ease of access to its holds, the possibility of going from one to another while observing its content and its variety have turned this shipwreck into a submerged museum about the Second World War.

When you go down to the ship and see it from the outside you can see the crew cannons, a locomotive, the destruction of the bombs, and the Bren Gun Carrier tanks supporting the infantry, they are belly up showing their chains. From there we can begin to introduce ourselves between the lines of trucks and motorcycles and reach the warehouse of rifles and aircraft parts such as wings that are still preserved. In warehouse number two we will find more trucks and see BSA M20 motorcycles assigned to Field Marshal Auchinleck, who was in charge of the British troops fighting Rommel. The G3L was designed specifically to be used in the desert and the Norton 16H.

We can also see Bedford MW and OY trucks, built for supplying troops. The Morris Commercial CS8 for artillery transport, the large Ford WOT 2 and 3, and the Tilling Stevens TS19.

 

When and how to dive the SS Thistlegorm wreck?

For more than 25 years, all our routes in the Sinai area spend a day diving into the SS Thistlegorm wreck. Normally you arrive in the afternoon when the rest of the boats return to the port and take the opportunity to dive at sunset and another at night.

The next morning we dive again to explore the ship again so that no area is left unvisited.

From March to January you can dive into this place, just check the availability of the routes on our website.

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Mares Horizon liveaboard Maldives

Pro Week – Mares HORIZON onboard Maldives Blue Force One

Mares HORIZON Pro week

January 15 to 22 & 22 to 29, 2022

A unique special cruise to test the Mares HORIZON rebreather 

Be the first diving in Maldives with this awesome equipment

Don’t loose your chance to book a place!

Onboard MALDIVES BLUE FORCE ONE (considered as one of the best diving Liveaboard in the world) we propose you the CENTRAL ATOLLS ROUTE from January, 15th to 22nd & 22nd to 29th, 2022.

This is the best well-known route in the Maldives but at the same time the one that offers the best and most varied dives. We do this route almost all year long (from August to May) week after week. Thanks to that, we know every detail, atoll, passage, thilas, and where and when it is convenient to approach every dive zone.

It is a 7-night route including 6-dive days on board with embarkation and disembarkation at Male Airport (18 dives with 2-night dives). 

The habitual itinerary goes by North and South Male Atolls, Vaavu, and Ari.

The aim is to find pelagic, grey sharks, white-tip sharks, black-tip sharks, and in some cases hammerheads and dolphins, eagle rays, and schools of colorful fishes, morays, tuna fish, groupers, and turtles.  

Drifting dive in water channels, thilas (submerged coral “seamounts”), cleaning stations where big mantas gather to deworm themselves, will search for the whale shark (and if we are lucky will snorkel and even dive with the biggest fish). We will dive into a full-of-life wreck. Besides, there will be two spectacular night dives, one with mantas and the other with dozens of nurse sharks.

Desert islands are also visited to discover and enjoy a bit more of the country and if the weather allows doing so we will even BBQ on a beach.

During this week, we will be able to discover and test the new semi-closed rebreather HORIZON SCR from MARES.

Although if you are longing to relax, you can enjoy the solarium and the jacuzzi on board, kayak, Paddle SUP…

All this will make this cruise an excellent and unforgettable Great Dive Travel.

Specials and unique Pro weeks !!

Offers & Schedule

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Unlimit your diving Experience !!

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Sudan, the ancient Red Sea

The Wild Red Sea:
Diving Expedition in Sudan

Diving in Sudan

From all over the world, more and more divers are coming to the Red Sea to discover this underwater paradise. The vast majority choose Egypt as their main destination because it offers a wide variety of dive sites, suitable for all levels of diving, where one can travel all year round at a great price. But there is another Red Sea, one that has been nearly kept in a time capsule, practically intact, unexplored, and retaining a sense of adventure like 30 years ago. We’re talking about diving in Sudan—the wild Red Sea!

When traveling to a place full of history, who hasn’t stopped to think about what it might have been like many years ago—trying to imagine each age, every change, and interaction, and their effects on the present day? This is what I describe when someone asks me about how is the scuba diving in Sudan.

Umbria wreck from the air with Blue Force 3

On board the Blue Force Fleet vessel that operates two months diving in Sudan,  you can also discover and enjoy from just 5 meters deep the spectacular 155-meter-long shipwreck loaded with hundreds of tons of intact weapons and much more. Come and find out the exciting story of this mythical shipwreck. 

Sudan. History of a young country

Sudan was the largest country in Africa until 2011. After long years of conflict, it was divided into North Sudan and South Sudan. North Sudan, which is officially known as the Republic of Sudan, has 853km of coastline along the Red Sea. For the past 25 years, it has been immersed in internal struggles, civil rivalries, and ethnic conflicts, which have completely impeded tourism and infrastructure development. 

For many years, divers have wanted to dive in Sudan, but because there was no reliable operation of flights and boats, there were drawbacks to planning a trip to the country. Since 2016, some airlines have made it easier to fly to Port Sudan where divers can embark on liveaboards.

Shark diving in Sudan

Diving in Sudan, reef grey shark

Due to weather conditions, Sudan has a relatively short dive season. Temperatures during the summer are very high, both above and below the waves—often reaching 30°C underwater. The high temperatures prompt large pelagics such as sharks to the range at deeper depths, out of reach of recreational divers. This is why the season with the best conditions for shark sightings is limited to the months with the lowest water temperatures —January to May—when the water reaches 24 to 26°C.

In addition to sharks, the other great dive attraction diving in Sudan is its spectacular reefs, with extensive colonies of various corals, extending from the depths up to the surface. These reefs are found in the open sea, far from the coast, so they are ideal places for marine life to shelter from predators, which, in turn, go to these places in search of prey. It is a perfect formula: a scenario of trophic equilibrium at the Red Sea, which guarantees encounters with large groups of fish of different species and their natural predators. Together with the nearly nonexistent commercial exploitation of these places, these reefs truly are an underwater paradise.

Bumphead parrot fish in Sanganeb reef

 

Sudan Central and North

The Central and North route is the classic and best-known route. It includes the central reefs and the upper part of the southern Red Sea. Here, one can dive into the impressive wreck of the Italian ship SS Umbria. It is one of the best WWII wrecks for diving at the Red Sea that can even be visited by snorkelers. Resting at a shallow depth, it is full of ammunition and war supplies.

In addition, divers get the opportunity to dive on the remains of the underwater laboratory Precontinent II, in Shaab Rumi, which Jacques-Yves Cousteau built in 1963. It comprises a set of submerged structures in which eight people can live continuously for up to a month, at a depth of about 10m, in an attempt to prove the viability of human life under the sea.

The rest of the dives on the Central and North route diving at Sudan are usually carried out on the northern most reefs of the Shaab Rumi Reef. These dive sites are full of life, large shoals of fish, incredibly hard and soft corals, and, of course, the ubiquitous sharks. It is difficult to describe the amount of life one can see on these dives—you have to be here to understand it.

 

Diving in Sudan today…

Sadly, in the last two years, from the beginning of 2019, with the Covid and the detentions by the army of members of Sudan’s government… we decided to stop diving in Sudan.

Internet, mobile phone networks, and parts of the landline network have been disrupted.

The regular airlines flying to Port Sudan canceled their operations two years ago so there is not an easy and safe way to arrive at our boat.

As an expert and Premium liveaboard diving operator, we stay working in Egyptdiving in the Red Sea with our liveaboard boats.

 

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Covid-19 Information

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Stay INFORMED

Latest news from Maldives:

The Maldives is opening its border and lifting the travel restrictions starting from July 15, 2020,

Check the imuga website for more information

Latest news from Egypt:

Updated entry requirements. Covid-19 entry restrictions removed as of 17 June 2022. All arrivals no longer need to complete any tests or show proof of vaccination.

Travelers coming back to their countries must know their local regulations on their arrivals and arrange everything in advance before boarding the back flights

Book Blue Force Fleet with CONFIDENCE AND FLEXIBILITY

Given the uncertainty for world tourism and diving trips, we would like to offer you a trustworthy product and very flexible conditions for when travel is possible.

For this, we propose special contracting and cancellation conditions for those passengers who may be affected by COVID-19 for Blue Force cruises in the Maldives and Egypt in 2022.