What is The SS Thistlegorm wreck
The SS Thistlegorm was a British merchant navy ship that was built in 1940 and was used during World War II to transport supplies to Allied troops in Egypt.
Today, the SS Thistlegorm is one of the best dive sites in Egypt and for many divers is the best Wreck in the Red Sea and is visited by thousands of divers each year.
In this article, we are going to tell you the story of The SS Thistlegorm Wreck.
Where is the SS Thistlegorm located?
The SS Thistlegorm wreck is located in the Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt near the Sinai Peninsula.
More specifically, the wreck is situated between the Egyptian towns of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, and lies at a depth of around 30 meters (100 feet) below the surface of the water.
The exact coordinates of the SS Thistlegorm are 27°48′N 33°55′E. The wreck can only be accessed by boat and is a popular diving destination for experienced divers from around the world.
It is widely regarded as one of the best wreck diving sites in the world due to its historical significance, excellent condition, and the variety of marine life that has taken up residence on and around the wreck.
What is the story of the SS Thistlegorm wreck?
The ship was traveling in a convoy from Glasgow, Scotland, to Alexandria, Egypt, carrying military supplies, and as the ship was passing through the Red Sea, it was attacked by two German Heinkel He-111 bombers from Kampfgeschwader 26 (KG 26) that were patrolling the area.
The bombers had been on a mission to attack the Suez Canal, but when they spotted the Thistlegorm, they diverted their course and attacked the ship instead.
The first bomb hit the Thistlegorm’s stern, causing a massive explosion that destroyed the ship’s rear portion and set it on fire. The second bomb hit the ammunition storage area, which caused a second massive explosion and sank the ship.
The attack happened at night and caught the crew by surprise, and despite their efforts to save the ship, it quickly sank to the bottom of the Red Sea.
Of the 41 crew members on board the Thistlegorm, nine were killed in the attack, and the rest were able to abandon the ship and make it to safety.
The ship was largely forgotten for many years until it was discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the 1950s, and it has since become a popular dive site and tourist attraction.
For many years, the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm remained largely forgotten, lying on the bottom of the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt. In the early 1950s, however, the famous French explorer Jacques Cousteau stumbled upon the wreck and was amazed by what he found.
The ship was still largely intact, and the cargo that it had been carrying was still on board, including the tanks, trucks, and other equipment that the ship had been transporting to the Allied troops.
Today, the SS Thistlegorm wreck is one of the most famous and popular dive sites in the Red Sea and the world, attracting thousands of divers each year who come to explore the wreck and the cargo that it still holds.
The ship is now a protected site, and divers are required to follow strict rules and regulations to ensure that the wreck is not damaged or disturbed.
What is the condition of the SS Thistlegorm wreck?
Despite lying at the bottom of the Red Sea for more than 80 years, the condition of the SS Thistlegorm wreck is considered to be excellent. This is due in part to the clear, warm waters of the Red Sea, which have helped to preserve the ship’s structure and cargo, as well as the fact that the wreck is located in a relatively remote location that is not subjected to heavy diving traffic.
Divers who visit the Thistlegorm wreck can see the ship’s hull, masts, and guns, as well as the cargo that the ship was carrying when it sank, including tanks, trucks, motorcycles, and other military equipment. Many of the items on board the ship are still recognizable and in good condition, providing a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Despite its excellent condition, however, the Thistlegorm is still a fragile wreck that requires careful handling and preservation. To this end, a number of measures have been put in place to protect the site, including restrictions on the number of divers who can visit the site each day, and regulations on how divers can interact with the wreck and its surroundings.
Is diving at the SS Thistlegorm suitable for beginners?
Diving at the Thistlegorm is not suitable for beginners or inexperienced divers, as the depth of the wreck and the sometimes-challenging conditions can make it a demanding dive.
As such, visitors are advised to ensure that they have the necessary training and experience before attempting to dive at the Thistlegorm.
What marine life can divers see on the SS Thistlegorm wreck?
The SS Thistlegorm wreck is home to a diverse range of marine life, making it a popular destination for divers who are interested in underwater ecosystems as well as history. Some of the marine life that can be found on and around the wreck include:
Giant Moray Eels – These large predatory eels are a common sight on the Thistlegorm and can often be seen hiding in the ship’s nooks and crannies.
Schools of Batfish – These large, curious fish are often found swimming around the Thistlegorm in large schools.
Barracuda – These large, predatory fish are a common sight on the Thistlegorm and can often be seen circling the wreck.
Napoleon Wrasse – These large, distinctive fish are often seen swimming around the Thistlegorm and are easily recognizable by their hump-shaped forehead.
Lionfish – These venomous fish are a common sight on the Thistlegorm and can often be seen lurking in the shadows.
Octopus – These intelligent creatures are often found hiding in the Thistlegorm’s nooks and crannies, and are a popular sight among divers.
Sea Turtles – These gentle giants are a common sight around the Thistlegorm and can often be seen swimming in the surrounding waters.
In addition to these species, the Thistlegorm is also home to a wide variety of smaller fish, crustaceans, and other marine creatures, making it a rich and fascinating underwater ecosystem.
How can I visit the SS Thistlegorm wreck?
The best way to visit and dive at the SS Thistlegorm is to go on a liveaboard diving safari trip in the red sea from Hurghada going to the northern dive location of the Red Sea.
Liveaboard diving trip itineraries that pass by the SS Thistlegorm wreck vary depending on the tour operator and route chosen but typically include a visit to this iconic dive site.
Here are a few examples of the dive site you might be visiting during the same trip:
- Ras Mohammed National Park.
- Tiran Island, including Jackson Reef and Woodhouse Reef.
- The Thistlegorm wreck.
- Wrecks of Abu Nuhas, including the Giannis D, the Chrisoula K, and the Carnatic.
- Sha’ab El Erg, including the Dolphin House, and visit the island of Giftun for a beach excursion.
This is just an example and can vary depending on the tour operator and the length of the trip.
The SS Thistlegorm is one of the best wrecks in the Red Sea that has captured the imagination of divers and history buffs around the world. Sunk during World War II, the wreck lay forgotten at the bottom of the Red Sea for many years until it was rediscovered by Jacques Cousteau in the 1950s.
Since then, the Thistlegorm has become one of the best dive sites in the Red Sea and a major diving holiday attraction, thanks in part to its excellent condition, fascinating cargo, and the variety of marine life that has taken up residence on and around the wreck.