Al Arish

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The El Tor at The Red Sea Wreck Project

The El Tor

The AL Arish was originally built as the 4,609 GRT Roll On/Roll Off PAX-ferry EL Tor built at A/S Bergens shipbuilding, Bergens, Norway (Yard No. 794) for Misr Edco Sg. Col., Ltd., Alexandria, Egypt. She was launched on 23 September 1980 and completed and delivered 31 March 1981. The ship was 106 meters in length and 17.3 meters in beam, with twin 12-cylinder diesel engines, a bowthruster from close maneuvering, and 2 shafts for a speed of 19 knots. The ship also had 328 cabins, room for 1025 passengers, and could carry up to 150 automobiles in her car deck.

The EL Tor operated between ports in Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the Red Sea from the time of her arrival in 1981 until her mysterious sinking in 2002 (some say 2004).

In 1991 the ship was renamed EL Tor EL Arish, a name which she kept until being sold to the Sayed Nasr Navigation Line, Cairo, in 1999 and renamed Al Arish.

The AL Arish‘s final voyage was on a return trip from Jeddah, KSA to Safaga in 2001. During this trip a fire broke out in the ship’s engine room which caused significant damage. The ship was able to make it back to Safaga where she was anchored and remained until the ship “disappeared” one day.

Local stories concerning the ship greatly vary. One day the ship was just gone and most people had assumed the the ship had gotten underway and left. One reference used in research states that after a long period of unpaid harbor fees the ship was intentionally scuttled, another reference alludes to an alleged insurance scam.

Guesses concerning the ship’s disappearance aside, the ship had actually sunk at its anchorage in 37 meters of water! The ship was relocated by Mr. Peter Collings of Emperor Divers a few years later and this looks to be a great wreck dive!

Diving Information

This is a complete wreck lying on her portside on the sandy bottom at 37 meters in a relatively protected area, which makes this a good dive in almost all weather conditions. The starboard side of the wreck lies at just 12 meters below the surface, so this is a dive that can be done any certification level. Divers can explore the lifeboat deck, stack and masts, the foc’sle, bow and bowthruster forward, along with the anchor chain, the aft stairwells, stern gate, rudders and propellers. Signs are still posted in many places and there remains various pieces of equipment associated with ships (deck chairs, fire hydrants and hoses, etc.). The wreck has become populated has started to become covered with soft corals and there is abundant marine life surrounding the wreck.
Al Arish Deck at The Red Sea Wreck Project
Al Arish at The Red Sea Wreck Project

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Lee has been in the marketing industry for the last 15 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. You can connect with Lee via Twitter by following @DiveMedia

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