El Mina Minesweeper and Mohamed Hasabella Fishing Vessel

El Mina

There are two popular wrecks in Hurghada harbour - the El Mina minesweeper and within a minute dive the Mohamed Hasabella fishing vessel. The El Mina lies in about 32 metres depth, while the Mohamed Hasabella is slightly deeper at 34 metres. The bottom is made of hard coral mounts and is slightly undulating. 


The El Mina is a Russian made T-43 minesweeper, which were built between 1947 and 1957. The Russian navy built a 178 of them, designed for twin duties of harbour protection / patrolling and mine clearing. Typically armed with 4 anti-aircraft guns, a depth charge launcher and up to 32 mines. Seven of these minesweepers were sold to the Egyptian navy in the 1960's. 


Based on a number of interviews and some cross-referencing of information, the following story emerges (however, it can't be fully verified). In November 1966, Egypt had signed the "mutual defence agreement" with Syria. In early 1967, a number of attacks and incidents between the PLO and Israel, as well as between Jordan and Israel, meant the tension in the area was rising.     


In May 1967, Gamel Abdel Nasser received false intelligence from his Russian allies, that Israel was amassing troops near the Syrian border, getting ready to attack. Nasser gave orders to start assembling troops on Sinai and he expelled the UN troops. The El Mina was given orders to protect Hurghada Harbour and Airport, but it was a "token" force, as the majority of the Egyptian forces (100,000 of 160,000 were deployed in Sinai) and the navy was to protect the army plus other critical installations.


On June 4th, Israel launched Operation Focus, the start of the 6 day war. A surprise air attack to disable the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian Air Forces by destroying their planes and critical airfields. Major General Mordechai Hod launched the attack early on June 5th. The Israeli Air Force destroyed 18 airfields and 452 enemy planes. The Egyptian air defence system had been shut down during the time (two senior Egyptian Generals were on their own planes flying to Sinai to their troops - and the Egyptian Air Defence were afraid to shoot down their own generals) , allowing the IAF easy access. 


After controlling the air space over Sinai, the following day June 6th, the IAF wave flew into Hurghada, seeing the El Mina moored in the bombing flight line. Three IAF jets came in low. They were spotted by the Captain of the El Mina who gave immediate order for battle stations and full power. However, she was moored both from the stern and bow, which meant she was not manoeuvrable. One of the IAF jets struck two large holes into her starboard side. She quickly took on water and sank - there were no reported deaths.

Diving the El Mina and Mohamed Hasabella
El Mina

The El Mina lies on her port side. The starboard side is between 18 metres and 22 metres. Allowing less experienced divers to dive her by following the top of the wreck. The bottom of the wreck is around 32 metres. The large gaping hole of the Israeli attack gives good a view into the wreck. We won't recommend you try to penetrate her, the passages are small and tight as you would expect of a military vessel, we had a brief look around - she is very silted on the inside, with many wires hanging around and life ammo as well. (Note: The sea bed around the El Mina is littered with life ammunition - don't touch, the ammo is highly volatile).


In addition, large colonies of glass fish have made her their home, which means there are quite a few groups of hunting scorpion fish around. As well as a large moray eel who has made his home inside - one of divers screamed as the eel swam right towards him inside the wreck.


Once you had enough, take a bearing from the stern due south and swim for about two minutes. You will come across the Mohamed Hasabella. A small "fishing" vessel (typical trawlers you see around). She sits upright and she is quite picturesque. When we dived her, she counted no less than 30 scorpion fish on her, so be careful if you decide to swim through her. 


Due to its depth and the amount you can see, many divers do get carried away and forgot to check their time limits (especially as this dive is often done at the end of live aboard week, meaning you have clocked up significant amount of residual nitrogen). It is very easy to exceed your non-decompression limits on her and we had to put drop tanks down on more than one occasion). 



El Mina

Posted on 4/23/2012 by SDA Editor

El Mina Minesweeper, wreck lying at 32 metres in the entrance of Hurghada Harbour - usually used as last dive on a liveaboard week.

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Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck

Length: 60m

Depth: 18m to 32m

Visibility: 15m+

Location: 27°13.57N, 33°50.82E

Difficulty: 2 Stars

Dive: 3 Stars

 

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El Mina