The Carnatic (Sha'ab Abu Nuhas)

The Carnatic sank in September 1869 and was not discovered until 1970s. An iron framed planked construction, she was a P&O passenger sail & steam ship, 90 m long and with a 12 m beam. 

On 12th September, she sailed from Suez to Bombay under the command of Captain P.B. Jones. She carried wine, cotton bails and £40,000 of royal mint gold, 34 passengers and had a crew compliment of 176. The Captain did most of the navigation and course plotting for two solid days. Overtired, the captain plotted their position wrongly and she ran aground as she struck Abu Nahas just after midnight. She sat on top of the shallow reef and did not sink immediately, Captain Jones decided to wait for another P&O vessel, the Sumatra, which was to pass in opposite direction on route to Suez. The Sumatra did not arrive on the following day and Captain Jones decided to ride out another night. However, after 36 hours, she broke in half late morning on Tuesday, September 14th 1869. The crew and passenger abandoned the ship and used the cotton bails (for warmth) and life boats to reach Shadwan island 2 miles to the south. 

In total 26 crew and 5 passengers lost their lives. Lloyds of London sent Captain Henry Grant to recover the gold, which he fully salvaged by November 8th 1869 (considering the technology available, this was quite a feat). 135 years later, the Carnatic is a fantastic dive site, she lies at 22m at the parallel to the base of the reef, tipped onto her port side. The wooden deck has long gone, allowing easy swimming between her decking beams (careful don’t damage the soft corals). Her boilers are clearly visible amidships, the bow area is littered with broken wine bottles from her cargo.


Posted on 4/23/2012 by SDA Editor

The Carnatic is one the four wrecks found on Abu Nuhas reef, a triangular reef in the Red Sea about 30 miles north of Hurghada. It is also often referred to as the ships' graveyard.

read more..

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck

Length: 90m

Depth: 15m to 30m

Visibility: 20m+

Location: 27°34.77N, 33°55.58E

Difficulty: 3 Stars

Dive: 4 Stars


Dive Log

Download a free log book page of this dive