Diving the Carnatic wreck, Red Sea

Carnatic map

Few wrecks in the world are able to get you into the history of sailing as the Carnatic. This XIX boat, very famous and innovative ship by the time it was launched, is certainly the most elegant of all Red Sea wrecks. Today, after nearly 150 years underwater, its remains are variegated with coral and hundreds of fish, generation after generation, have made this disaster their home and shelter.

The Carnatic, the most elegant Red Sea wreck. Pic by andrzej.czyzyk 

The Carnatic was a steamship built in the 1860s. Launched as Mysore, had 90 meters long and weighing almost 2,000 tons to carry up to 250 people. It had primitive engines and its sails could provide 12 knots. A real privilege for that time.

The Carnatic
The only known picture of the Carnatic in 1860

Unlike other young wrecks of Abu Nuhas as Kimon M or Giannis D, the Carnatic is been almost 150 years under the warm waters of the Red Sea and the coral and other marine life has become owners of their remains.

The Carnatic left Suez on 12th of September 1869 with 230 people on board and a cargo of cotton, Port wine, copper ingots and 40,000 pounds in gold coins. In the early morning hours the strong northerly winds pushed the ship off course. At 1:30 a.m. the ship hit Abu Nuhas reef.  

The damage was not severe and the ship’s captain preferred to wait for the Sumatra ship, that arrived to help. Two days after running aground a strong storm turned the boat and the Carnatic started to drown. The ship split in half and then started the rescue operation with lifeboats. A large majority of passengers arrived on the island of Shadwan, but 27 people died in this disaster. After the sinking started a pioneering operation to retrieve the cargo with a bomb that provide air to divers through a helmet connected with the surface. Thanks to this operation most of the gold and copper was recovered. The wreck lay undisturbed until May 1984 when some divers stumbled upon the wreck near the wreck of the Giannis D.

Diving the Carnatic

The Carnatic lies on the port side and divided into two distinct parts, the bow and stern are separated from the cover that has collapsed. Most of the remains are revolved around the wreck, where you´ll see the variegated coral constructions, but the cellar is also accessible, where the glassfish have found a great shelter. Inside this section there are still some broken bottles carrying wine, in fact many know him as «The wine wreck.» Throughout the wreck 200 bottles with its content intact can be found.

There are still visible the remnants of machinery between stern and bow. The wooden deck is rotten after so many years under water but are still visible three beams now covered with soft and hard corals, anemones and hundreds of colorful fish that have made it their home. The stern seems purposely decorated with many corals, one of the most photogenic of the wreck. 

At 55 feet meters deep and down we found the rudder got to the propeller, which composes beautiful scenery with crystal shoals, sweepers, emperor angelfish, corals and turtles gnawing and many nudibranchs. One of the most impressive images of the Carnatic is the highest point of the bow section, on its starboard side, where the main deck lies. Hundreds of fish of all colors and sizes for decades, generation after generation, have been using the remains of the boat as a perfect environment.

The upper section of the foredeck is also a spectacular color burst. Anthias sweepers, silversides, lionfish, triggerfish, clownfish … Viewing the bow can still imagine the magnificence of this boat at the time it was launched, maintains the sleek lines of a ship that nature has become a jewel.

Where is the SS Carnatic?

Recommended liveaboards to dive in the SS Carnatic

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