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Red Sea Wrecks
Insider’s Wreck Guide:
The Numidia
Pictures: Simon Rogerson
Resident Red Sea wreck guru John kean explores the fascinating the same route over 100 times and knew these seas well. On 19 July
story and diving treats of the Numidia, which lies near the Big Brother 1901, his new ship, the Numidia, weighed over 4,000 tonnes and had
island in Egypt’s south Red Sea. 97 hands on board. Once clear of the Suez Canal and approaching
the Brothers he left control of the ship to the second officer, James
Smashing British ships into Egyptian reef systems seems to have Tulloch with instructions to steer her 27 degrees South, which should
been something of a national sport around one hundred years ago take Numidia over one mile westward of Big Brother Island. It was
when the Dunraven, the Carnatic and the Numidia all came out worse then that John Craig left the bridge after a gruelling 60-hour shift to
following collisions with these timeless ecosystems. get some sleep. It was 11pm.
The ‘Brothers’, as they are known, are a remote reef system consisting The events that followed remain partly unknown but a court of
of Big Brother and Small Brother islands, which are about 500 meters enquiry noted that James Tulloch changed the course when he saw
apart and around 40 kilometers from the nearest land. As far as Big Brother bearing down fast. But what was he doing for the two
Red Sea safari divers are concerned they are as remote as you can hours previously when the lighthouse was in sight? It was suggested
get and make for some spectacular diving. Big Brother is home to a that he might have been sleeping at the wheel. Two lighthouse
lighthouse and its staff, a few small buildings and half a dozen cats keepers watching the approaching ship said it made no sign of
with questionable pedigree. altering course until it was almost upon them. At the last minute he
changed course to 22 degrees South. He could have easily awoken
At the turn of the last century, ships like the Numidia would use the skipper John Craig and absolved himself of responsibility. It was too
Big Brother lighthouse to navigate having travelled through the Suez late.
Canal. They would sail on down the Southern Red Sea out into the
ocean. Numidia was heading for Calcutta, but she never made it. The enquiry found the ship’s compasses to have been in perfect
working order. There was a light fresh breeze that night but no
The skipper was Captain John Craig who had been with the Anchor mention was made of the currents that are now well known to divers.
Line for over 5 years and a Master for 28 years. He had travelled These currents can reach great speed and carry objects several miles
Issue 4 January - February ‘10
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