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Liveaboard Diving in Thistlegorm
What to Expect On A Thistlegorm Liveaboard
A dive liveaboard to the SS Thistlegorm, one of the world's most famous shipwrecks resting in around 20-30 meters of water should definitley be on any divers 'must' dive' list in the Red Sea. She left Glasgow in June 1941 carrying locomotives for an Egyptian train company and military vehicles and munitions for the Allied forces stationed in Egypt. She anchored off the coast with the HMS Carlisle as an escort waiting for transit through the Suez Canal.
The Thistlegorm never made it to the Canal though. On the 6th of October, she was mistaken for a troop carrier and bombed by the Luftwaffe. She sank through a destructive combination of the German bombs and the ignition of her own ammunition. Most of her cargo still remains inside the ship's holds, except for two locomotives which lie on either side of the shipwreck.
The Thistlegorm was rediscovered as a dive site by Jacques Cousteau in the 1950's and during the diving boom in the 1990's it became a world famous dive site. The cargo is easy to view without wreck penetration because the wreck spilt in two revealing trucks, guns, motorcycles and many other military goods in the cargo holds. This is a dream for wreck divers and there are plenty of eels, barracuda, batfish and the occasional turtle around for wildlife lovers too. Numerous Egypt liveaboards offer dives on the Thistlegorm as part of their Northern Red Sea itineraries
Morning - The Thistlegorm is rated one of the best wreck dives in the world, which means that it is extremely popular. This means lots of divers visit every day, so if you are diving from a liveaboard you are in luck. The morning will be early, around 6 am, but it is well worth it to get in the water and start exploring before any of the day boats arrive from Sharm. For this reason, most liveaboards diving the Thistlegorm try to make two dives on the wreck before heading to another quieter site in the afternoon.
A light breakfast in the morning followed by a briefing will help you to orientate yourself for the dive. The wreck is very large so maybe even take notes in the briefing so you can spot important points when you get down there. Liveaboards and other boats often anchor on or very close to the wreck meaning divers can go directly from the main boat without needing a tender.
The Thistlegorm is over 128 meters long and sitting upright on a sandy seabed. The wreck site has so much to see that it takes at least two dives, if not more, to see the majority of it. Best to start with the deeper profile at the stern which is around 30 meters then work your way up.
The Thistlegorm is split in two, with the smaller stern section on its side and a fantastic break that leaves the layers of cargo decks exposed. On the stern in addition to the propeller, tanks and munitions there are also machine and anti-aircraft guns hanging from the now vertical deck. They are a dream come true for divers with a passion for World War II hardware.
There are also two locomotives, one on the port and one on the starboard side. They came out of the vessel when she sank and sitting in the sand not far from the main wreck they are a perfect subject for underwater photographers. Towards the middle where the bowels of the ship have been exposed by the explosion that sank her there are numerous layers of the holds. These holds are full of different cargos, including everything from rifles and grenades to shoes and boots a veritable underwater museum.
The marine life is more concentrated towards the shallower area close to the stem of the ship although you will find cardinals in the holds and crocodile fish in the sand near the locomotives. Big barracudas hang out above the wreck though and eels are frequently seen poking out of different cracks and holes in the structure.
Top Tips for Thistlegorm
- A liveaboard cruise which visits the Thistlegorm really is the best way to see this wreck, with early morning dives you will avoid the crowds arriving by boat from Sharm el Sheikh.
- The wreck can be a bit disorientating so making a quick slate copy of the sitemap might prove helpful.
- For photographers a good flash is a big advantage. Many of the most photo worthy items, are in the hold, where the light is scarce.
Getting to Thistlegorm
Egypt liveaboards that include the Thistlegorm normally depart either from Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada. Both resorts have their own airports offering international flights from mainland Europe with connections further afield. Almost all liveaboards offer transfers for guests from the nearby airport or hotels in the area.
Liveaboards which dive on the Thistlegorm usually embark from Sharm el Sheikh and will normally travel along the coast towards the Thistlegorm taking in a number of dives in Ras Mohammed National Park and the wrecks at Abu Nuhas. Those that begin in Hurghada will head North via Abu Nuhas and other popular wreck sites such as Shaab El Erg.
It is also possible to access the Thistlegorm by day boat starting in Sharm el Sheikh. The day starts very early usually around 4 am and returns around 5-6pm. This long day is due to the 4-hour sail from the port at Sharm. Most of these day trips offer 2 dives on the Thistlegorm.
Thistlegorm Diving Reviews
- 9.2 Superb
- 65 Verified Reviews
A mixed feelings between a wonderful Wreak diving and the 2 world war
Diving Thistlegorm in July on the King Snefro 5
Die Thistlegorm wurde 2 x getaucht. Wir hatten auch akzeptable Sicht. Es ist ein tolles Wrack.
Diving Thistlegorm in April on the Coral Dreams