Beautiful Place Diving at the Turkia
Diving at the Turkia From the tourist mecca of Hurghada, the liveaboard has been stubbornly heading north for endless hours. Always at ten knots, in a constant up and down, far into the Gulf of Suez. The coast passes by on the port side. To starboard are huge container ships that a captain shouldn’t get in the way if their own ship is only 36 meters long and made of wood.
16 divers are on board. They want to be among the first to dive on the “SS Turkia“, a supply freighter from World War II, the exact location of which is only passed on by hand. “You have to know someone who knows someone who knows where the ship is and who will tell you,” says Christiane Nedwed, owner of Seawolf Diving. In this case, as is so often the case, it was a fisherman.
There are only a few wrecks in the depths that can be reached by recreational divers, which are scarcely dived and almost unplundered. Very few. For true scrap metal enthusiasts, they are what the ring was for Gollum: a treasure to be treasured.
The area where the “Seawolf Soul” anchors at the end of its journey are usually not interesting for tourists. In the distance, you can see a small town with scattered huts on which satellite dishes are placed. A miserable lighthouse defiantly stretches towards the sky, alongside a lonely country road. The bleak scenario is embedded in a world of sand and rubble.
Clouds of fish
But the treasure that the divers are looking for is not on the coast, but under the keel of their ship, at a maximum depth of 24 meters. They step into their gear, one last check, then the step from the deck into the water.
Shortly after the jump, it becomes clear that each of them around 14 hours of arrival was worth it. The “Turkia” is an ark of life in the middle of the vast blue of the Red Sea. The freighter, which is 91 meters long and almost 13 meters wide, is so encased in fish that you can no longer see it in places.
A huge flock of young barracudas circled the structures. They resemble a pulsating cloud of silver bodies that pour into the holds and then move on towards the tip of the bow. They are accompanied by thousands of striped fusiliers, perch-like fish, which sometimes even hide the sunlight due to their sheer mass.
Torpedo rays lie lazily on the deck planks, lionfish fight against slugs and moray eels for the photographer’s attention. If you have a diving lamp with you, you can flash the colours of the corals, which cover almost every part of the ship’s steel: their bright red, orange and purple.
Soft corals hang from the railing like grapes, while the gorgonians with their large fans grow even in open portholes. But nowhere is the untouchedness of the “Turkia” so clearly visible as in the galley area.
There are still bottles of wine and boots on the floor, cutlery, plates and a life jacket with the name of the ship. It’s things like this that make the difference between a wreck and a treasure. Things that are stolen first when the plundering of a ruined ship begins, at the end of which there is a soulless hull.
From freighter to the artificial reef
In May 1941 the “Turkia” sank on its journey from New York to Piraeus when a fire broke out in the third hold. She had loaded tires, cables and ammunition for Greek soldiers who opposed the Germans on their Balkan campaign. What went down in the war has become an artificial reef today, as well as a steely testimony to the fact that nature always remains the victor in the end – as long as man does not mess with it in the script.
The last minutes of the dive leads to the bow, which points vertically downwards. Torn off fishing nets hang from it and give the wreck an even more mystical flair. Anemones have settled on the anchor, which is firmly seated in its cleat, guarded by orange clownfish with white stripes on the sides – little guys of a maximum of 15 centimetres in length, who daringly oppose each potential attacker.
At some point, the compressed air runs out. During the ascent, the divers are accompanied by mackerel, whose bellies are eaten up by the oversupply of food. Then there is the safety stop at a depth of five meters and the last look back: The “Turkia” has disappeared again, has become invisible behind a curtain made of fish.