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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NUMIDIA

The Loss of the Numidia: In February 1901 the Numidia completed her Maiden voyage from Glasgow to Bombay and Calcutta. Then, on 6 July 1901 she departed Liverpool to undertake the same journey. She was carrying a general cargo of 7,000 tons and a crew of 97. The ship cleared Suez on 19 July 1901 and made good time down the Gulf. Once in the open Red Sea Captain John Craig set a course for Big Brother Island. He then retired to his cabin leaving the Second Mate on watch with instructions to be called when the Brothers Light was abeam. At 0200 hrs, however, the ship crashed onto the rocks on Big Brother Island - less than 500 feet from the Lighthouse! Every effort was made to re-float the ship without success. Captain Craig then remained on the island for 7 weeks during which he was able to salvage the most of the cargo before the Numidia broke and the rear half sank against the Reef with the stern coming to rest at 80m.


Diving the Numidia: This a most beautiful shipwreck. At the stern rudder and propeller are intact - but deep! The wooden decking had disappeared leaving a steel framework which allows easy gain access to all parts of the ship. The rearmost holds are wide open and the rear mast is intact as far as the crosstrees. There are a number of large deck winches but no cargo booms. At 8-12m, the top of the bridge and accommodation deck is shallowest. The lifeboat davits on both sides are swung out. There are also large engine room air vents - broken and intact. The remainder of this ship was aground on a shallow reef where it has remained at the mercy of successive winter storms and has been reduced to scrap which is now covered in thick coral growth.


Postscript (1): The Board of Trade Enquiry was held in Glasgow in October 1901 and concluded that the Second Mate had probably fallen asleep at his post, had failed to keep sufficient watch and neglected to call the Master as instructed. His certificate was suspended for 9 months.


Postscript (2): Captain John Craig was born in Glasgow in 1845 and obtained his Master’s Certificate in 1872 at the age of 27 years. Prior to commanding the Numidia, he had successfully commanded the Algeria for 3 years. After the loss of the Numidia, it would appear he never returned to the sea.

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, north tip

Depth

8m to 80m+

Constructed

1901

Launched

1901

Type

General Cargo Vessel.

Displacement

6399

Dimensions

Machinery

3 cylinder triple expansion engine

Owners

Anchor Line of Glasgow

Cargo

General cargo