The Million Hope was a Bulk Cargo Carrier of 16,339 GRT built at Koyo Dockyard, Mihara-Hiroshima, Japan. Originally named the Ryusei Maru upon her being launched on 10 June 1972, she was 174.6 meters in length,24.9 meters in beam, and 10 meters in draught, with twin 6-cylinder diesel engines and a single shaft for a speed of 17 knots. The ship had 5 massive cargo holds located forward of the superstructure and 4 gantry cranes, one mounted amidships between each of the tanks.
The ship operated in the service of various companies between the time of her launching and the time of her loss. Shipwrecks of Egypt
has found no reference to any of the shipowners except for the owner at the time of the ship’s loss.
The ship operated as the Ryusei Maru until being sold in 1975 when she was renamed Pacific Royal. Sold again in 1981 and named the Linngsbon until being resold yet again in 1987 and being given the name Feng Shun. In 1991 she was renamed the Hope and then sold once again to the Aksonas Shipping Company, Ltd., Limassol, Cyprus, in May 1996 and was renamed Million Hope
The Loss of the Million Hope:
The ship departed Aqaba Jordan on 19 June 1996, enroute to Taiwan with a cargo of 26,000 tons of potash and phosphates (One source states 15,000 tons potash, 11,000 tons phosphate). Early the following morning, 20 June, the ship ran aground on the inshore reef near Naqb which is located a few miles north of Sharm EL-Sheikh.
The reason for the ship’s grounding varies between a fire occurring in the ship’s superstructure, a combination of high speed in low visibility conditions, or a combination of both, depending on which version of the incident one reads. However, there is evidence of there having been a fire onboard.
Lloyd’s List dated 24 June 1996 carried the following item under “Casualty Report“:
“MILLION HOPE (Cyprus) Jun 21: Egyptian Maritime Officials said yesterday they were concerned about possible leakage of about 23,000 tons of phosphate and potassium plus 700 tons of fuel from the bulk carrier Million Hope which sank off Egypt’s Sinai Peninsular, Cairo radio reported. All 25 members of the crew were rescued by Egyptian naval vessels and other vessels in an operation that lasted more than 20 hours. The vessel, on voyage from Jordan to Taiwan, was ripped open by coral reefs near Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh resort. The vessel’s mainly Filipino crew huddled in the stern and refused to abandon ship until it became clear the vessel would sink, Cairo radio said. Some of the crew accused the vessel’s master of failing to follow the area’s prescribed navigation routes and of maintaining speed despite poor visibility.”
The crew of 25 men were safely rescued shortly after the grounding.
There were concerns by the local Egyptian authorities about oil and fuel leaking from the ship, but very little leakage occurred. And what leakage there was quickly dissipated. The greater worry was that the cargo of potash and phophates would contaminate the surrounding reef systems. A salvage operation was launched prior to the ship’s sinking during which all of the chip’s cargo was removed before the ship sank at position 28.03.42N/34.26.40E in 21-24 meters of water.
This is the largest shipwreck in the Red Sea. The Million Hope
sits upright, with a port list, on the bottom with its starboard side next to the reef. Most of the cranes and the upper levels of the superstructure are still above water. As the ship has a port list, the deck edge on that side is at approximately 6 meters. One can swim the entire length of the wreck and see the massive propellers aft (the rudder is missing), and see the “impact zone” where the bow of the ship struck the reef. Also scattered on the bottom around the ship is a veritable “junkyard” of steel bits and pieces. These are the remains of a ship which sank in the same spot many years prior to the Million Hope
. This is the wreck of the Hey Daroma
At approximately amidships on the starboard side between the ship and the reef there is a place where the hull has buckled and created a penetration point which allows access to one of the ship’s holds, which like the others, is empty. It’s like diving in a big saltwater swimming pool! An entrance/exit from the hold is also located on the portside hold. At the aft end of the ship, the gantry for the No. 4 crane lies on the bottom. The main deck is at between 4-5 meters and allows penetration access to the lower decks of the superstructure. This in turn, provides access to the engine room and other spaces below decks. The main deck area used to have all of the standard deck fittings and rails, but these may be gone by now.