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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ZINGARA (also know as the Kormoran)

The Loss of the Zingara: The Zingara sailed from Aqaba on 21 August 1984 and ran aground on Laguna Reef the following day. Very badly damaged, she was immediately declared a constructive total loss. The Straits of Tiran are a narrow stretch of water between the Sinai Peninsula and Tiran Island offering access to the Gulf of Aqaba. In the centre of these narrow straits are four coral reefs which reduce the width of the shipping lanes on either side quite significantly. All sea-going vessels are, therefore, required to “Keep to the Right” so that they do not meet oncoming traffic head-on. The fully loaded southbound Zingara hit the reef on the eastern side of the Straits when she should have been following a westerly route. Furthermore, the ship struck the reef with such considerable force that her entire bottom was completely removed.


Diving the Zingara: This wreck is well broken up although everything is still there. Part of the top of the stern breaks the surface and acts as a marker. Hard corals are now firmly attached to all wreckage. The stern, with railings and bollards intact, leans over to port at an angle of about 45 degrees. Rudder and propeller are still in place. From here there is a large debris field with plenty to discover. Steel plates lies across the seabed and a pair of deck winches are upside down. The ships masts are also present. The windlass with anchor chains identifies the foc’sle. Over on the port side, there is enough of the hull remaining to reveal the raised steel letters of the ship’s original name. “KORMOR” is easily seen but the letters “A” and “N” (which made up the word KORMORAN) are obscured.


Postscript: This ship met its end in the most dangerous of circumstances. Either the Captain decided to save time and wrongly sought to head south down the eastern channel - against oncoming traffic, and was piling on speed in order to get through as quickly as possible, or he simply made a monumental error of navigation.

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

Sharm el Sheikh, north-east of Jackson reef

Depth

(superstructure at surface) to 15m

Constructed

1963

Launched

1963

Type

General Cargo Vessel.

Displacement

1582

Dimensions

Machinery

6 cylinder diesel engine

Owners

Montemare di Navigazione S.p.a. of Naples

Cargo

Phosphate Rock