“Women and children to the life rafts!” If you’ve ever been on a sinking ship, or watched the movie Titanic, you’ve heard this line before. I’ve actually done both. I’m sure the passengers of the Carnatic, a 1,776 ton steamer built in 1862 can also vouch for the intensity behind this phrase when it sank on September 14, 1869.
With 210 passengers on board, including the 176 crew members, the ship ran aground the Sha’ab Abu Nuhas Reef in the northern part of the Red Sea. Captain Jones, after assessing the damage, was confident that they could make it to land and insisted everyone stay on board. Talk about a bad call. Two and a half days later, the ship finally gave in and broke in half, taking 31 lives with her.
Today, 139 years after the incident, the ship has become a deep-sea diver’s most awaited adventure. It is completely covered in soft coral and is known to be a popular hang-out spot for glassfish, morays, lionfish and groupers.
For all you souvenir seekers looking for the ultimate keepsake, this trip might help you return with more than you came with. Let's just say the Carnatic was holding some precious cargo.
A month after it sank, a helmet diver extracted 700 copper plates from the wreckage. In addition to the 40,000 pounds of gold bullion on board, desperate looters have also been trying for years to find the 8,000 pounds of sterling still trapped in the wreckage. But while you're searching for all that sunken treasure, don't forget to pay your respects. RC