|260 38.367N, 340 03.570E
|Meestal licht, soms sterk
|Needed when penetrating.
|Other points of interest
The ‘Salem Express’ was originally launched in 1966 as the ‘Fred Scamaroni’. After that she sailed as the ‘Nuits Saint George’, ‘Lord Sinai’ and ‘Al Thara’ before she was finally named ‘Salem Express’ in 1988.
The Salem Express is a so-called ‘Roll-On, Roll-Off’ ferry. That means that you drive on the ship from one side, but on arrival drive off on the other side again. The ship therefore has doors both at the bow and at the stern. She had a capacity of 142 cars and 650 passengers.
De loss of the ‘Salem Express’
The ‘Salem Express’ was used as one of the many Ferries between Egypt and Jeddah to transport the hundreds of thousands of Mecca pilgrims. Her last trip departed from Jeddah towards Safaga.
Hasssan Moro had been the captain of the ‘Salem Express’ since 1988 and as such had already made many trips, also between Jeddah and Safaga. As such, he was as normal sailing a fast route between the mainland and the treacherous Hyndman Reefs. This route saved the ship two hours of sailing. No other captain took this route but took the normal long route around Panorama reef.
This time, however, it did end very well. Tha night the weather was very bad. Because of this the difference between the reefs and the sea was not clearly visible. The ship had deviated from her regular course and ran therefore on a southern reef of the Hyndman group. Because of the blow the bow door flew from the bolts and hit a hole on the starboard side. This made the ship fatal. The ship capsized to starboard and sank in 20 minutes. Many people in the ship were equal, but many of the people on deck could not swim and drown. Those who could swim were lucky that the storm blew them directly to land. There were about 180 survivors. Officially, the ship had 578 passengers and 72 crew members on board but unofficially it was in the direction of the 1200.
Diving the ‘Salem Express’
There is always a dive from a boat so the descent is not difficult via the Daallijn. However, there is usually some current. Especially with good visibility, the entire ship can be clearly seen on descent.
To get an impression of the ‘Salem Express’ it is nice to first go to the bow to see the point of impact. Then via the front deck with the anchor winches alongside the bridge. Behind the bridge you find the sun deck with on both sides the Davids. Then continue your route following the gangways to the stern. Halfway we pass the chimney with the letter ‘S’. A little further we arrive at the rear deck. You can still see the frames where the plastic blue panels were attached to protect the passengers against the sun. You can see these panels now on the seabed. Also you see personal items such as suitcases and such. At the stern you find the opening of the back door. Since a couple of years the hinges broke and the door is now on the seabed.
We find the propellers even further around. A little bit further we are back at our starting point and have made a trip around the ‘Salem Express’.
The next dive we can enter the wreck.
Nowadays, for safety reasons, all the windows of the cabins have been smashed on the outside, so that it is now also safe enough for the less experienced diver to enter the wreck.
The easiest way to enter the wreck is through the large hole in the side of the wreck. That hole accesses a corridor that runs across the ship. First this access was closed by the Egyptian marine. Today it is easy recognizable by the original door still laying a bit across the hole. Be aware that the wreck is on its side. This will quickly lose your orientation. Deeper in the wreck is just going from one side to the other.
Without a lamp, it is also not wise to go inside.
When entering and descending, you pass the various car decks. First the small side deck, then the large middle deck and then another side deck.
A common route is to immediately after entering go to the bow through the shallowest side walk. Many suitcases and other personal items can be seen here in the corridor. At the end of this corridor there are two more cars. When we pass these cars, we arrive in the front space behind the bow door.
There we see a lorry, a of forklift. This lorry is often mistaken for a truck. However, the purpose of theis lorry is to bring trailers on board, so to load the trailers without the need for a truck.
From this space you can now follow the large middle deck to where you entered the wreck. That point is not to be missed, looking at the light. If you have enough air, you can just continue your route to the stern and leave the wreck there.
There is so much more to see on the wreck and different routes can be followed. Our guides will be more than happy to show you around on this beautiful wreck.
Plus d’ épaves