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Numidia at The Red Sea Wreck Project

The S.S. Numidia was built as a steam cargo ship of 6,399 GRT at D. & W. Henderson & Co., Ltd., Meadowside Shipyard (Yard No. 419, No. 85 Castlebank Street, Glasgow, Scotland, for the Anchor Line Ltd., Glasgow, Scotland. The ship was launched and delivered on 04 February 1901 with a length of 137.4 meters, beam of 16.7 meters and draught of 9.2 meters. Propulsion was provided by a triple-expansion steam engine and a single shaft for a top speed of 12 knots.

The Numidia’s maiden voyage was on 28 February 1901 departing from Glasgow under the command of Captain John Craig and sailing to Calcutta, making the return trip soon afterwards. The voyage, by all accounts was uneventful.

The second voyage of the ship would, however, prove to be her last. The ship departed Liverpool, bound for Calcutta, on 06 July 1901 with a general cargo of 7,000 tons and a crew of 97. Early on 19 July, after successfully transitting through the Suez Canal, the ship continued on her voyage south, clearing Shadwan Island at 1900 that evening. Continuing south in clear weather, the ship’s course was altered at 2300 and two hours later, at 0100 on the 20th, the light at Big Brothers Island was sighted off of the port bow. Captain Craig altered the ship’s course again with the intention of passing over a mile to the west of Big Brothers.

The Captain then departed the Bridge leaving an order with the Officer of the Watch to be notified with the Big Brothers light was abeam of the ship. At 0210 the Captain was rudely awakened in his cabin below by the sound of his ship running aground on the northern plateau of Big Brothers! Rushing to the Bridge, he found that not only had the ship run aground on Big Brothers, but that his ship was lying almost directly below the lighthouse!

The Captain and crew spent the next two hours attempting to back the ship off of the island to no avail, at which time Captain Craig ordered the engines stopped. When the ship ran aground, the bow sustained serious damage which resulted in the ship taking on water. Dispatches were then sent to Suez at 0730 requesting assistance to which the S.S. Rhipens, among other ships, responded and attempts to refloat the ship were made, again to no avail. Captain Craig, realizing that the ship was lost, allowed his crew to be rescued. He, however, spent another 7 weeks on the island supervising the salvage of the ship’s cargo before the ship finally sank at position 26° 19′ 00″ N / 34° 50′ 00″E.

At the Board of Trade Enquiry following the loss of the ship, it was decided that the Officer of the Watch had, in all probability fallen asleep, therefore failing in his duties. As a result, his certificate was suspended for a period of 9 months.

Diving Information

The ship lies perpendicular to the reef with the bow lying at around 8-meters, with the rest of the ship descending at a steep angle to a depth of approximately 80-meters. Due to the constant water currents here, the wreck is engulfed by soft and hard corals. The top of the wreck is marked by a pair of train axles and wheels which had been carried on the ship’s main deck. Descending from here to the ship itself, there are two large cargo holds, now empty, lying forward of the ship’s superstructure. The wooden decking of the ship has long since disappeared, leaving a easily accessed cavernous hulk to explore. Aft of hold No. 2 the remains of the superstructure can be explored. It too, was constructed of wood on steel decking so that all that remains are the basic steel support components of the superstructure.

Aft of the superstructure, at a depth of around 50 meters, the ship’s funnel can be found, with the engine room located directly beneath it. Cargo holds No. 3 and 4 are located further aft of the funnel and are similar to the forward holds. The remains of the aft mast are still upright with deck winches located below on the rounded stern, beneath which lie the propeller and rudder at 80 meters.

This wreck offers exciting diving for all dive certification levels. The abundance of marine life here is amazing. Nearby this wreck is also another exceptional shipwreck…..the wreck of the Aida located only 100 meters away!


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