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Liveaboard Diving in Salem Express
What to Expect on A MV Salem Express Wreck Liveaboard
Liveaboards to the Salem Express are available from Hurghada, Egypt. The roll on roll off passenger ferry the Salem Express was caught in a storm on the 17th December, 1991. She was in transit from Mecca and carrying pilgrims back home from Jeddah to the nearby town of Safaga when she struck Hyndman reef. The bow was breached and the vessel sank so quickly, that a huge number of the passengers were unable to escape in time.
The loss of life was catastrophic with the official number of casualties more than half of those on board and unofficial figures believed to be much higher. Many believe that the ship was in fact carrying far more people that she should have been. The true number of lives lost may never be known after the recovery of bodies was halted due to concerns about the safety for the divers involved.
These tragic circumstances mean it is hard to find a more moving or more controversial shipwreck in the Red Sea. Many believe this wreck to be a tomb to those who were lost in the accident and should not be open for diving. Those who dive it report the feeling moved by the experience of visiting this underwater monument to those who lost their lives that day. The Salem Express is visited on select Red Sea liveaboard itineraries.
What you can see
The ship sank fairly recently which means that coral and fish life are still in the process of building up on this fairly young wreck. There is still a great deal to see though, the circumstances of that tragic night are laid out on the seabed. The damage to the bow from hitting the reef is still visible along with well-preserved remnants of the luggage and vehicles of those on board.
The wreck lies on the sea bed over on its port side on a slope from 10 to 30 meters /32 to 98 ft. of water. Divers can swim from the bow to stern along the now vertical deck and the starboard side. There are numerous portholes to look inside from, many of them smashed in efforts by divers trying to recover the remains of passengers. Inside these portholes, you can see the cabins and luggage of passengers and crew preserved and largely untouched.
The vehicle hold stands out, divers can look inside and see a number of different vehicles still inside with the chassis and steering wheels still in excellent condition. There are also some pipefish in the hold and other spots inside as well as box fish and parrot fish on the outside but this dive really is more about the shipwreck and its tragic circumstances, than marine life.
Getting to the MV Salem Express
Hyndman reef is around 15 km/9 miles to the Southeast of the nearest town and intended destination of the Salem Express, Safaga. There are day boat trips from the town although they are not as numerous as those from Hurghada which is another 60 km further south.
The MV Salem Express is a fairly popular wreck and to make the most of an early start before any day boats arrive the best way to visit the site is by liveaboard. Most Egypt dive liveaboards that visit this site depart from Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh with some starting at one and ending in the other to make the most of your time aboard. This is also often part of wreck liveaboard itineraries that include Abu Nuhas and the Thistlegorm.
Both Sharm and Hurghada have their own international airports with regular flights to mainland Europe and connecting flights further afield. Do bear in mind that the two airports are quite far apart and transfer between them is mainly by flight or ferry only.
Salem Express Diving Reviews
- 9.4 Superb
- 2 Verified Reviews