Alaska was as a refrigerated cargo ship, or “Reefer” ship, of 1,012 GRT built at Corcho Hijos shipbuilding, Santander, Spain. The ship was launched 22 June 1959 and completed the following November with a length of 82 meters, a beam of 12.3 meters with a single diesel engine connected to a single shaft for a speed of 13 knots.
‘Escorpion’ then renamed ‘Lago Negro’ in 1967, ‘Anubis’ in 1975, ‘Reefer Express’ in 1980 and finally the ‘Alaska’. Owned by the Overseas Reefers Carriers Marine Company. She was a 928-ton refrigerated cargo vessel, fitted with an 8-cylinder diesel engine delivering 1700bhp. She was involved in regular service delivering meats to Saudi Arabia.
In 1975, she was re-named Anubis, then in 1980 as the Reefer Express. And then finally, also in 1980, the ship was renamed Alaska II and was registered as being flagged in Egypt.
Wreck location: Sha’ab Ali, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: surface to 10m
She was returning from Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) to Suez and when entering the Gulf of Suez she caught fire and was ripped apart by an explosion. She sank 10 minutes later. Two crewmen were lost and 9 others were saved after many hours in the water.
The Wreck Today
The wreck lies in 10 metres on the west side of Sha’ab Ali. As the wreck was so encrusted into the reef and dispersed around it, we doubted if we (Peter Collings & friends) would ever identify her.
The 6-metre longbow/ foc’sle lies on its port side with only the port anchor and chain in situ. The anchor winch is still in place and her masts lie alongside complete with ladders and loudspeaker. Her starboard side reaches to the surface and her cargo consists of huge granite slabs with lateral groves down the edges, presumably the bases of the cold storage units. There are also sets of cooling radiators from the refrigeration system. Brass portholes with cast storm covers litter the wreck. A spare prop sits central but there is no sign of any bridge or accommodation. The stern, again fairly intact lies on its port side and the storeroom could be accessed with care. Here a Walkers Log and piston shells from a small engine were located. Oblong glass lenses with curved edges were also found. These turned out to be small skylights, fitted into wooded decks to allow light to filter down below. To say the least, this is a very intriguing wreck. Given the depth it is possible to spend a long time on her remains