Wreck Diving
Wrecks of the Red Sea

The Red Sea has been an important international waterway since time immemorial. The first record of a trading expedition in the Red Sea dates back to year 1493 BC, when Queen Hatchepsut of Egypt sent a fleet of five vessels from El Quseir, on the Red Sea mainland coast, to the Land of Punt, near present-day Somalia.

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AÏDA

The Loss of the Aïda: On the sheltered side of Big Brother Island (the one with the Lighthouse) is also an old jetty used for delivering stores and changeover of personnel. The Aïda was ferrying troops to this island when, on 15 September 1957, she struck the reef and began to sink. On board were 157 persons including crew at the time. 77 people were rescued by the Tugboat “Bergehus” and the remainder scrambled safely ashore.

Diving the Aïda: The front of this ship is missing. The remainder, however, is virtually intact from a point immediately in front of the bridge deck all the way to the stern. She lies at a steep angle up the reef with her stern at a depth of 56m. Both rudder and propeller are intact. Even at 56m, the coral growth is outstanding but gets more vibrant as you ascend. The water is exceptionally clear making this wreck a thing of great beauty. Working upwards, the wooden deck-planking has rotted away leaving a framework of steel cross-members and supports which allow access to every part of the ship. On the afterdeck are the remains of the rear mast - complete as far as the crosstrees, below which are deck winches. At 40m is the rear of the central bridge deck with lifeboat davits and engine room air vents. The leading edge of what remains of this ship is at 28m revealing a large, open engine room. Curiously, the engines are lodged above the wreck on a ledge at 12m.

Postscript: On 8 October 1941 the Aïda was attacked and damaged by German aircraft but was later repaired and returned to service. One report, however, wrongly stated this ship was “bombed and sunk.” This led to speculation that “this” Aïda must have been a different ship and for many years this wreck was incorrectly known as “Aïda II.”


Ned Middleton is an award-winning, best selling author. For more information about this and other shipwrecks found within the Egyptian sector of the Red Sea, his book “Shipwrecks from the Egyptian Red Sea” (ISBN 1898162719 and 1905492162) is readily available. This book was declared “Underwater Publication of the Year” for 2007.

Location

Big Brother Island, northern tip

Depth

12m to 60m

Constructed

1911

Launched

1911

Type

Passenger Freighter

Displacement

1428

Dimensions

Machinery

3 cylinder triple expansion steam engine.

Owners

Egyptian Marine

Cargo

Troops and Stores