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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ROSALIE MOLLER

The Loss of the Rosalie Moller: In July 1941, under command of Australian Captain James Byrne, the Rosalie Moller was ordered to sail independently for Alexandria via South Africa. She called at Durban and sailed again on 11 September. After another brief stop at Aden she finally entered the Red Sea. On reaching the Gulf of Suez, she was assigned to “Safe Anchorage H” to await further instructions. In the early hours of 6 October 1941, the Thistlegorm was bombed and sunk. 48 hours later the Rosalie Moller suffered the same fate. Two bombs were released by the German aircraft with one penetrating No 3 hold causing sufficient damage for the vessel to sink. Two members of crew were lost in the attack.


Diving the Rosalie Moller: This is a magnificent shipwreck which is virtually intact. She sits upright on the seabed at a maximum depth of 45-50m. Almost everything is still in place including both masts - as far as the crosstrees. The decks are at 39m. At the bows, the starboard anchor is deployed and the port anchor tight against the hawse pipe. Railings are largely intact as are the accommodations blocks, winches, hawsers and other paraphernalia. Cargo hatches are gone revealing the cargo still in place. All the portholes are present. The Bridge, however, has been stripped and the Captain’s safe lies forced open on the floor. For almost 60 years the tall funnel with it’s magnificent copper steam whistle remained upright. In early 2001, however, a rope was deliberately tied to the steam whistle in order to pull it free. In so doing the funnel was pulled over causing considerable damage.


Postscript: James Michael Byrne was born in Sydney in 1889 and gained his Master’s Certificate in Australia in 1924. Prior to command of the Rosalie Moller he had worked throughout the Far East and came to Britain to help with the war effort. After the loss of the Rosalie Moller, his name disappears from British shipping records. This would suggest that either he never went to sea again or, as is more likely, he returned to Australia and continued the fight from there.

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

West of Small Gobal Island

Depth

17m to 50m

Constructed

1910

Launched

1910

Type

Freighter

Displacement

3960

Dimensions

Machinery

Triple expansion steam engine

Owners

Moller Line

Cargo

4,680 tons of coal.