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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ULYSSES

The Loss of the Ulysses: In August 1887 the Ulysses left London for Penang with Captain Arthur Bremner in command. This was his first visit to the Red Sea. Having cleared Suez, Bremner checked their position and plotted his course before issuing some very definite and clear instructions. By 15 August, the Ulysses was nearing the end of the Gulf of Suez and approaching the open Red Sea when the ship grounded. At first, the incident was regarded as relatively minor and a passing ship was asked to hasten to Suez for immediate assistance. That assistance, however, did not arrive until the 18th - by which time the hull had fractured and the vessel was regarded as lost. With the Royal Navy providing protection for all concerned, the crews of the Ulysses and the Lighters from Suez salvaged most of the cargo. The Ulysses was finally abandoned on 6 September but no date for her sinking was recorded.


Diving the Ulysses: The Ulysses lies up the Reef with her stern at 28m. The front third of the ship is a debris field. The main body of the wreck, however, lies on it’s port side and provides a very interesting dive. Most of the wooden decking has rotted away revealing a framework of iron supports similar to those of the Carnatic. The stern is beautifully rounded and both rudder and propeller are in place. Bollards, winches, railings and a large tiller are all present. The main structure is wide open allowing the diver to enter and explore the vessel at two levels down to the keel. Heading forward we eventually exit from the wreck at that point where the ship meets the coral reef. The rear mast lies across the seabed next to the broken funnel. From this point forward, the vessel is well broken up.


Postscript: Captain Arthur Wellesley Bremner was born in Liverpool in 1843 and gained his Master’s Certificate in 1867 at the early age of 24 years. He was awarded the Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea in 1884. He commanded a number of different vessels from 1880 before being appointed to the Ulysses in February 1885. After the Loss of the Ulysses he never went to sea again.

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

Suez

Depth

28m

Constructed

1871

Launched

1871

Type

General cargo vessel

Displacement

1992

Dimensions

Machinery

2 stroke, 2 cylinder coal fired steam engine

Owners

The Ocean Steamship Company

Cargo

General cargo