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SS Thistlegorm Virgins

June 2023 saw 5 of us from Mansfield and District SCUBA diving club enjoy a week's diving in the Red Sea off the coast of Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. Plenty of sun, sea and a bit of Sangria … well, more Sakara Gold, less Sangria, but you get the picture 😊


We dived with Emperor Divers all week and Phil has documented the bulk of the trip elsewhere on the site. I’m here to tell you about our first dive on the SS Thistlegorm.


We’d been talking about whether to do this dive for weeks, as it involves a rather hefty supplement. We made our final decision a couple of days into the trip, after some gentle encouragement from our Dive Officer Chris, who had dived the wreck many times and said it was a firm favourite of his.


After a few days diving on the local reefs, we were more than ready for the much-discussed SS Thistlegorm excursion with Alex, our trusted guide from Emperor Divers. So, far too early on the morning of Sunday 18th June, we were picked up at 5:15 am....YES 5:15 AM .... crikey we must be MAD!


Our boat for this trip, Alfredo, was awesome, 4 Decks of luxury and space. Even Alex was impressed by the size and speed of it. The journey took us only 2 and a half hours to get to the site of the wreck, much quicker than the normal day boats.

After the well-executed dive briefing from Alex, we got kitted up for the first dive on this fantastic wreck. Only Chris Kean, the club DO had dived this site before (several times). The rest of us; Phil Robinson, Simon Charlton, Gareth Sparrow and myself were Thistlegorm virgins. It’s fair to say there was a little trepidation as well as a fair measure of barely contained excitement.


Once in the water I popped my head under the surface to see the wreck...WOW... Lying at 30 metres on the sea bed, you could see how big and AWE INSPIRING it was.


We did 2 dives on her. The first dive was to explore the exterior of the wreck. After a negative entry and due to the choppy seas above, we descended down a vigorously bucking shot line, holding on for dear life, until we reached the deck.  We then followed Alex around the exterior for a 40-minute dive. There was a little current, but nothing too much and we saw the prop and most of the deck from bow to stern.

During our surface interval we were all excited about what we had just dived, taking in the scenery we had just witnessed...AMAZING.....


Having a guide that knows the boat so well meant that for Dive 2 we got an extensive tour of the interior, swimming through the cargo holds, where motorbikes and trucks, destined for our brave soldiers in WW2 were still there in all their glory, albeit covered in sea life and corals. Knowing I was looking down on a war grave, where 9 brave souls lost their lives, gave the dives ahead even more meaning.


Swimming through the interior was very eerie and dark in some places. You definitely need a decent torch for this dive.


This second 43-minute dive exploring the inside of the SS Thistlegorm left me blown away. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that these were the best 2 dives of my life so far. They will be hard to beat.


Safe to say, we all made it out alive and well, and I will cherish the memories of diving one of the most famous dive wrecks in the world. Hopefully I will get a chance to dive her again soon.


Happy and safe diving all,


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