Famous Red Sea Shipwrecks

The oceans of the world hold much more than just salt. The history beneath the waves is far too plentiful to ever find out in full, but one feature that definitely lies beneath the surface is the assortment of shipwrecks that lie at the bottom. The Red Sea holds numerous sunken ships in an area that was once prone to shipwrecks. Many historians even consider the Red Sea to be the best spot for visiting shipwrecks, not only because of the diversity that’s found at the sea floor, but because of the shape and quality that many of the ships are in.

For sightseers and scuba divers, getting a glimpse of these sunken ships and the history they hold is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Here are three of the most famous shipwrecks found in the Red Sea and a description of what makes them so breathtaking.

• Giannis D

This massive freighter had an unfortunate collision with the Red Sea Reef of Abu Nuhas, a common mishap among sunken ships in the Red Sea. Compared to many other shipwrecks, this one is relatively new – it hit the sea floor in 1983. Departing from Greece, it was never able to deliver its freight, but it leaves scuba divers with a beautiful sight to visit. 

Aside from corrosion and general damage, most of the ship still lies exactly as it fell from the surface. Those lucky enough to see it underwater can go right up to it and explore without danger. All original ropes, anchors, stairs, railings, etc., along with most ship parts and sections, are still intact, while the cargo still remains with it. 

• HMS Thistlegorm

Another cargo ship that fell to an unfortunate demise, the Thislegorm was a victim of war. When carrying supplies to the British at their Alexandria port in 1941, it was sunk by a German bomber ship in the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea. It wasn’t found until 1956, when Jacques Cousteau and his team discovered it during the filming of Silent World. Today, it still holds the majority of its supplies, including trucks, bikes, guns, and other wartime equipment. For sightseers it serves as a museum of historical artifacts . . . the entire shipwreck is history in itself, acting as an emblem right out of World War II. 

• Umbria

The Umbria has a similar history to the Thistlegorm. It was also a World War II cargo ship, traveling to Italy to drop off supplies on the day Italy declared war on Great Britain. It was one of the first ships that the British Navy ordered to sink. Just 20 miles from Port Sudan the British hit it and sunk it, leaving millions of dollars of cargo to drop to the sea floor. At less than 35 meters below the surface, the Umbria offers divers a chance to witness many of the wartime supplies that never reached port, which include Fiat cars, ammunition, and hundreds of wine bottles. Different sections and passageways of the boat can still be reached and traveled.

While these wrecks are among the most famous and widely explored by divers in the Red Sea, so many more are down there, and each one has a unique history that could only be told if the walls could talk.