The Red Sea Wreck Project

Agia Varvara

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The Agia Varvara was originally built as the 863 GRT Cargo ship Nina at Ch & At Aug-Normand, Le Havre, France for Cie Generale Transatlantique (Transat), Le Havre, France. The ship was completed in October 1950 with a length of 63.5 meters, beam of 9.3 meters, and a draught of 4 meters. Propulsion was provided by a 5-cylinder diesel engine and a single shaft for a speed of 10 knots.

In 1958 she was lengthed by 6.8 meters with an increase to 1,075 GRT.

In late 1963 or early 1964, the ship was sold to the Cayman Islands and renamed Athenia. Renamed again in 1970 as Petros. And finally, in 1974, she was sold to Gestar Shipping Company, Famagusta, Cyprus, and renamed Agia Varvara (Greek for “Santa Barbara“…which leads to name misspellings).

Early in the morning on 28 June 1976, while enroute from Aqaba, Jordan to Port Said in ballast, the ship ran hard aground on a reef near Nabq at position 28.03.42N/34.26.36 (or 40)E. The Israeli Navy rescued subsequently rescued the ship’s crew.

Diving Information

The remains of the ship’s bow lies on the reef where she ran aground. However, due to the downward slope of the reef to a depth of around 20-meters, the ship has broken apart into several sections which means she is fairly easy to explore. The stern section and propeller lie in 20-meters of water with the rudder located a short distance away. Access to the engineering space, or engine room, is gained through the aft section of the ship’s superstructure. A section of the superstructure is completely separated from the rest of the wreck and lies atop the ship’s stack in 20-meters on the northern side of the wreck. Really a nice enjoyable non-challenging wreck dive.

For pictures of the wreck, visit


Lee has been in the marketing industry for the last 20 years and now specializes in teaching marketing techniques to people in the scuba diving industry. He is founder of Dive Media Solutions which, in addition to providing complete marketing, media, communications and IT solutions exclusively for the scuba diving industry, also produces The Scuba News which Lee is the Managing Editor of, along with providing 1-2-1 tutorials with dive centers and diving manufacturers around the world. You can connect with Lee via Twitter by following @mrleetw

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