The Giannis D was a cargo ship of 2,992 GRT originally built as the Shoyo Maru at Kuryshima Dock Company of Imabari, Japan and completed in September of 1969. The ship was 99.5 meters in length, 16 meters in beam, 6.53 meters in draught. Propulsion was provided by a 6-cylinder diesel engine provided by Akasaka Tekkosho KK of Yaizu, Japan, which delivered 3,000 BHP to a single shaft and propeller for a top speed of 12 knots. The ship had two cargo holds located forward of the superstructure, which is located aft, and contained the pilothouse and crew accommodations with workshops and the engineering spaces also located aft below the main deck.
The ship sailed under the name of Shoyo Maru until being sold in 1975 and renamed the Markus. The ship was sold again in 1980 to the Dumarc Shipping and Trading Corporation, Piraeus, Greece, and renamed the Giannis “D”.
The Loss of the Giannis “D”:
The ship’s final voyage began at Rijeka, Yugoslavia, in April 1983 where she took on a cargo of lumber (some say soft wood, others say teak) and was bound for Jeddah, KSA, via the Suez Canal, to discharge part of the cargo, with the remainder destined for Hodeidah, Yemen. The passage south through the Adriatic, Mediterranean, and Suez Canal were uneventful. On 19 April 1983 the ship was in transit in the Straits of Gubal, which is a rather narrow shipping lane before reaching the open waters of the Red Sea. Once on course for open water, the Captain turned over the helm to one of his junior officers and retired to his cabin to rest. Soon afterwards he was rudely awakened by the sound of his ship running aground.
It appeared that the Giannis D had drifted west of her set course and ran aground at full speed on the northwest edge of the Sha’ab Abu Nuhas Reef.
Lloyd’s List Casualty Report dated April 22nd 1983 reported the following:
“GIANNIS D (Greek). London Apr 21 – Information received, dated Apr 20, states: Mv Giannis D, (from Rijeka), cargo sawn softwood for discharge at Jeddah and Hodeidah, grounded at Sha’b Abu Nuhas, approximate position lat. 27.35N, long. 33.56E, last night. Crew abandoned vessel, which is listing, and taken by an Egyptian tug to Santa Fe platform and then by helicopter to Ras Shoke. Owners signed Lloyd’s standard form with salvage tug Salvanguard, which proceeding to vessel.”
The ship was written off as a total constructive loss and remained stranded atop the reef for several weeks afterwards. During a storm the ship broke in half and sank to the base of the reef at position 27° 34′ 42″ N, 33° 55′ 24 in 10-28 meters of water.
The ship is lying on the bottom in roughly three separate sections parallel to the reef, with the crumpled bow lying at 10 meters, the cargo area amidships being a jumble of steel and remains of the cargo, and the aft section with an intact A-frame located forward of the superstructure.
The stern of the wreck is lying at 24 meters. The bow lies fully on its port side and the superstructure aft lies at about a 45-degree angle. At the stern, the ship’s bent propeller lies partially buried in the sand on the bottom. All along the deck areas on the aft section are deck fittings, bollards, winches, and the boat davits. Penetration into the superstructure is easiest by entering the pilothouse, which has been stripped of all of its equipment, and then heading aft and down the companionway into the engine room, which hasn’t been salvaged. Because of the angle of the ship it can become a bit disorienting for the first time wreck diver here. The engine room is filled with catwalks and handrails, all at odd angles, with the diesel engine lying to one side. Exit from the engine room can be easily made by ascending up through one of the skylights above the diesel where you find yourself beside the ship’s smokestack.
The mast of the ship reaches upwards to almost 4-meters below the surface and is a good place to make your safety stop. The wreck is populated with numerous varieties of aquatic life with glassfish, scorpionfish, wrasse, the occassional napoleon, crocodile fish, and blue-spotted stingrays along the bottom. This is really a fun wreck dive for divers of all certification levels.