- The steamship Numidia was designed as a cargo ship and was built and launched in 1901 by D & W Henderson & Co. in Glasgow, Scotland. With its length of almost 138 m, it was considered a true giant of its time, and its sinking drew much attention. Its owner, Anchor Line Ltd., put veteran captain John Craig in command of the ship.
- The Numidia’s maiden voyage went through the Suez Canal to Calcutta and was uneventful. Back in England, the ship was loaded with rails and wheels for the construction of the Indian railways and once more set sail for Calcutta at the beginning of July in 1901 through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Suez. Captain Craig was in command when the beacon of Big Brother Island appeared on the horizon in the night of 19 to 20 July. He set the course for the next hours and gave his second mate, James Tulloch, command of the ship before withdrawing to his cabin. At about 2 o’clock in the morning, a great blow shook the ship. When Captain Craig arrived on the bridge, he found that the Numidia had run aground on the reef in front of Big Brother Island. Though the actual cause of the accident has never been found, one hypothesis is that the second mate may have fallen asleep. As the ship lay with its bow aground on the reef plateau, all attempts to tow it away from the reef failed, so the crew was evacuated to the island, and the cargo was loaded onto other ships. After several weeks, the ship could no longer withstand the elements and broke in two in front of its central superstructures. Its stern slipped over the edge of the reef and now leans keel downwards on the reef. In the course of time, its bow has been worn away by the wind and waves and today looks as if it has fused with the top of the reef.
- Exploring the Wreck
- The Numidia is rightfully considered one of the finest wrecks in the world. Its original size and splendid corals, as well as the high probability of seeing sharks in the blue, create an unparalleled atmosphere underwater. Remains of its cargo and bow can already be found at a depth of 10 m on top of the reef A, which is so full of hard and soft corals that this alone is reason enough to dive here.
- At a depth of about 20 m, the central superstructures, the cabins and the remains of the bridge A start to grow out of the reef. The wooden planking has rotted in the course of time, and the steel frame along with the railings and davits form a wonderful photo opportunity. The main deck begins at a depth of 40 m behind the superstructures, and the openings to the holds 3 A and 4 A are clearly visible. Between them, the mainmast A rises diagonally to a depth of 45 m. When the visibility is good one can make out the stern and the helm A below. Below them at about 80 m lies the propeller on the seafloor. However, dives to this depth are of course only possible with proper equipment and training in technical diving. Altogether, strong currents often flow about the wreck making it only wise and safe for experienced divers to explore it.
- Tips / Hazards
- • Beautifully overgrown shipwreck • Parts of the shipwreck are already found at shallow
- depths on top of the reef • Strong currents possible • Shipwreck extends far down—watch your depth