Egypt Red Sea Shipwrecks - The Kimon M

The Kimon M By Ned Middleton

Note: Ned Middleton is a professional Underwater Photo-Journalist who has published a number of articles in recent years about Red Sea Wrecks. Please send corrections to Ned Middleton here.

Day Boat

Safari Boat

Shore Dive


Diving Grade







27 34 48" N, 33 56 00"E. Northeast corner of Shaab Abu Nuhas Reef


Day or Safari boat normally from Hurghada occasionally from Sharm El Sheikh

Minimum Depth to Wreck

6m (at Bows)

Maximum Depth to Seabed:

32m (at stern)

Average Visibility:


There are four outstanding Wrecks which lay across the northern shores of Shab Abu Nuhas Reef. From west to east these are the Giannis D, the Carnatic, the Chrisoula K and Kimon M. Confusion has surrounded these last two wrecks for many years as names became mixed up. The former name of the Chrisoula K was the Dora Oldendorf and the "Olden" part of that name can still be found on the vessels hull. It was only natural, therefore, for some to think she was the "Olden."

The Chrisoula K was a vessel of 3,720 tonnes. By comparison, the Olden was 27,288 tonnes with twin propellers. Loaded with Barley, she struck a reef before sinking in lat. 27 31.2N, long. 34 17.1E on 2nd February 1987. This large Bulk Carrier is now found approx.14 miles due east of Shadwan Island in over 1000m of water! Having confused the Oldens name with one ship, her cargo then becomes confused with another.

The Kimon M was of a similar size, tonnage and age to the Chrisoula K and many leading accounts show photographs of one ship whilst describing the other. On discovering the Chrisoula K to be full of Tiles, it has been assumed the Olden must be the other wreck nearby. Finding her to be full of Lentils has proved to be good enough for those who think Lentils probably meant Barley anyway! Things only get worse when one starts to read so-called authentic accounts of the "SS Lentil" - but enough is enough.

The Ship

The "Kimon" was a General Cargo Vessel of 3,714 tonnes (gross) with 4 cargo holds - two forward of and two aft of the central bridge structure. She was built in the German town of Hamm in 1952 by Stuicken & Sohn. Her dimensions were 106.4m x 14.8m x 6.81m. She was powered by a 4 stroke single action 8 cylinder diesel engine built by Waggon & Masch - also of Hamm.

The ship did not change her name throughout her career - although the "M" was added some years later by her last owners - the Ianissos Shipping Company of Panama.

The Loss of the Kimon M

In December 1978, the Kimon M loaded 4,500 tons of bagged Lentils in the Turkish port of Iskenderun. On completion, the hatches were battened down and the ship prepared for the long journey to Bombay. It took just over two days for the Kimon M to reach Port Said and about the same time again to reach Suez. From here, the Captain had to navigate the narrow confines of the more hazardous upper reaches of the Straits of Suez and for two days he spent most of his time on the bridge - giving his personal attention to every detail of bringing his vessel safely into the Red Sea.

Finally, the ship approached the wider stretches of the Straits of Gubal and the Sinai began to fall away to the east and the Egyptian mainland even further away to the west. Satisfied that the more dangerous stretches had been safely negotiated, the Captain finally handed over control of his ship to one of his officers and went below.

It was not long, however, before he was very rudely awoken. On December 12th 1978, with engines at Full Speed the Kimon M drove hard onto the north east corner of Shab Abu Nuhas Reef. A passing cargo ship - the "Interasja," immediately responded to the distress call and picked up all the crew and delivered them safely to Suez two days later.

Lloyds List - for 13 December 1978, contained the following item:

"KIMON M. (Panamanian). Port Said Dec 12 - MV Kimon M, Iskenderun for Bombay with about 4,500 tons of Lentils, reported stranded near Safaga, exact position still to be ascertained. All crew reportedly abandoned vessel and rescued by MV Interasja, arriving Suez Dec 13-14. (Note Kimon M had passed Suez Dec. 10.)"

Lloyds List - for 14 December 1978, updated that information:

"KIMON M. (Panamanian). London, Dec 12 - Kimon M struck wreck in position lat. 27 35N, long. 33 55 E. Strait of Gubal. Vessel requires tug assistance on Lloyds open form (See issue of Dec 13.)"

It is not known which wreck the Kimon M claims to have hit prior to grounding. This was almost 3 years before the Chrisoula K would go aground, but other ships are known to have grounded here and then been successfully refloated. Perhaps, one such grounded vessel gave the impression of being in deep water and the Kimon M simply meant to go around her? More importantly, of course, the position given by Lloyds puts the Kimon M right where she is still found to this day.

The initial impact drove the Kimon M hard onto the top of the Reef where she stayed for several days. With some of the cargo recovered during the first day after wrecking, the remainder became contaminated with seawater and was abandoned. Initial surveys reported the damage to the hull to be so extensive that she was classed as a "total constructive loss."

Prevailing winds and currents then began to push the ship hard over onto her starboard side. Throughout this time, the rather extensive area forward of the Bridge, including Nos 1 and 2 Holds, were being continually pounded until they were eventually reduced to scrap metal. The remainder of the wreck then fell back into the deeper water and came to rest at the base of the Reef - still on its starboard side.

The one final indignity to befall this ship was the salvage of large parts of the main engines. With a Salvage Tug firmly secured above the upper, port side, of the Kimon M a large hole was cut into the vessel and the main bulk of the engine removed.

Diving the Kimon M

At the Bows, storms and rough seas have reduced the front of the ship to a scattered field of debris. The remainder of the wreck itself, however, provides a very exciting dive. It is as though the vessel has been cut straight across the middle of No 2 hold - with that debris field and the remains of the forward mast being all that exists in front of that cut. Immediately aft of No 2 Hold is the engine room with the bulkhead between the two also having disappeared. This, however, has created one of the most exciting underwater scenes it has ever been my privilege to see and photograph.

We arrived on the wreck above the port side and dropped into the hole cut by the salvage team. The view from here - forward through what remains of No 2 Hold, was breathtaking. It was like looking through a large oblong box with those Divers who were right at the break, neatly framed in the sunlight against the Reef. between us, inside the hold were a small number of Batfish.

Turning to look the other way, we found the remains of the engine room. The removal of the main engine has created easy access to all parts and there is still a great deal for the Diver to see and explore. There are pressure valves, gate valves, vents, dials and gauges of all sizes on each and every side. There are pipes and railings stretching in every direction, steel ladders - now canted over at the wrong angle, and metal walk-ways now on their side. Altogether, they add to the experience as the Diver tries to visualize what it was like when the Chief Engineer and his staff went about their work.

Exiting the wreck from the hole, we then followed the port side all the way down towards the stern where we found a large single propeller and rudder. From here we made our way around the very distinctive and pointed stern to the rear decks.

This area is of particular interest and offers a variety of different dives to cater for all levels of experience. For the more able Diver, there is penetration through the various accommodation blocks right through to the engine room, for others, there is the external investigation of numerous features which include the stern, a swim into open cargo holds, those same accommodation blocks and, of course, the Bridge.

Being the least damaged, many features of the stern remain intact complete with bollards, capstans and railings etc. The decks themselves are, of course, vertical, and are already well colonized by small outcrops of coral and all the popular Fishes one might expect to find on the nearby Reef. Away from the decks, the main masts lie parallel to the seabed although one of the booms still defies the inevitable laws of gravity and reaches straight upwards to within 6m of the surface.

At the front of the Wreck, the seabed at the base of the Reef is between 25-27m. The hole in the port side is at 17m from where everything gets gradually deeper until one reaches the stern where the seabed is at 32m.

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Last Updated: May 29th, 2011