Wrecks - Sudan - Liveaboard Diving
Thought to have been smuggling from Saudi Arabia, the cargo ship Blue Belt missed a passage through the reef and struck Sha’ab Su’adi in December 1977, 50 miles north of Port Sudan. She lies upturned at right angles to the reef her bow is on the sand at 18m and the stern at 70m plus. Loaded with cars, trucks, tractors and spares she’s known locally as the Toyota wreck. Remains of vehicles are scattered on the seabed around the wreck and make for some interesting rummaging.
Wingate reef is just 35 minutes out of Port Sudan and is the resting place of the Umbria, arguably the Red Sea’s most photogenic wreck. Scuttled by the Italian crew in 1940, to avoid capture by the British, she was en-route to Calcutta, via Eritrea, with a mixed cargo including over 350,000 bombs. She was also carrying tires, wine and 3 Fiat Lagunas, all of which she took to the bottom with her.
This 150m wreck lies at a max 40m over on her port side, her starboard side just breaking the surface. The funnel & mast have long since collapsed and life rafts are scattered on the seabed around her. An initial investigation can be done by snorkel, as there’s little current. The hull and handrails are heavily encrusted and the holds are open and easily entered. The starboard propeller is intact and clear of the bottom so makes for an excellent photo opportunity at 18m. Spanish Dancers, crabs, lobsters and small octopus have made their homes here and sharks are often seen prowling in open water.
In 1963, Jacques Cousteau ran his Conshelf II Underwater Living experiments on Sha´ab Rumi reef, as captured on the film Le Monde Sans Soleil (The world without Sun), and five men spent a month living underwater. Forty years on you can still swim amongst the remains of his village. Just a dark shadow from the boat, once underwater you begin to make out an onion-shaped structure standing on three legs. This is the submarine´s steel hangar. Still airtight, divers bubbles have created an airpocket inside.
Other debris includes the remains of the tool shed, the Aquarium and a shark cage all now delicately encrusted with corals. This dive is a shallow dive along the western wall of the reef. Apart from the historically interesting remains of the Precontinent the reef itself is absolutely stunning with every conceivable coral species fighting for a foothold on the narrow ledge.
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