Shipwrecks of the Maldives

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sHIpWrecKs oF tHe MAlDIVes


Celebrating 30 years of publishing Forward by John Womack


Front cover: Founder member of the RSWA, Colin Murphy exploring the Maldives Victory, during our first wreck expedition shortly before his untimely death due to a non-diving illness. 2

FORWARD by JOHN WOMACK I am John Womack Snr, BSAC First Class Diver, Advanced Instructor & owner of Otter Drysuits in Yorkshire, having dived the Britannic, Prince of Wales, Repulse and the Victoria plus many more over the last 40 years I would not go anywhere in the Red Sea without one of Peter's guide books. I have been on numerous successful trips of Peter's including wreck searching in Truk La goon.

Peter's new book is awesome, there are so many wrecks and to give detailed descriptions of all the wrecks themselves is great, it makes you feel like you have dived them already. I remember doing a night dive on the Thistlegorm which was just fantastic it was pitch black with pin points of light from fellow divers lights. In the south, Peter, Tom and myself went looking for the wreck of the Maidan on Rocky Island, we followed the debris trail down to 65mtrs and there before us was the huge sha dow of the wreck hanging over the abyss starting at 80 mtrs. We could only look down in wonder, but we had found what we were looking for after 10 years.

Peter's trips are a must and very much like his trips his books are a must read, Peter is a walking encyclopa edia on all things diving and ship wrecks. A lot of great ships were made in the North East and it comes as no surprise to me that this is where Peter came from too, we have been friends /fellow wreck divers a lot of years and hope to be sharing experiences and books for many more years to come.

John Womack MD Otter Watersports Yorkshire.March 2018 Otter Drysuits, UK This series of guides is respectfully dedicated to this great man. I am proud to have called him friend and shared his last dive. JOHN MICHAEL WOMACK 23 MARCH 1943- 30TH NOV.2018 3


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With special thanks to the first two Maldives Wreck expedition teams 2005: Alan & Karen Monk, Bob Needham, Colin Murphy, Lyndon Wright, Martin & Matthew Collings, Chris Tricky 2008 - “Snapper”, Mike & Sue Rountree, Ian Mallinson, Anne McNab, Dave Christie.


INTRODUCTION The Maldives are by no means a Truk Lagoon or Scapa Flow. Indeed war seems to have passed these idyllic islands by, and to date we have only a few war time casualties listed. Many local wooden trading vessels are known to have been lost, a few cargo ships and numerous fishing vessels have been located over the years. The diving industry too has been responsible for numerous vessels sunk as tourist attractions. The sheer length of coastline formed by these islands atolls and reefs must hide the remains of many doomed vessels, the most romantic and intriguing of all dating back to 1400. Since its conception, the Red Sea Wreck Academy has been responsible for the discovery, identification and survey of over 30 shipwrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea, its founder and author of this publication, Peter Collings, receiving a national award from the Governor of the Sinai for his contribution to the tourist industry through research and discovery. Like the Red Sea back in the early days of tourism, the Maldives gained recognition as a dive location, not through shipwrecks but through its fish, coral diversity and clear warm waters. Recent


natural events have had their effect, but the Maldives remain a jewel in a glittering ocean. A series of wreck hunting and research expeditions were put together by the RSWA, and this publication is the results so far. Many wrecks in these waters were purposely sunk, and while they don’t have colourful history, they lend themselves to great photo opportunities and animal encounters. As with the expeditions to Aruba, Coron and of course Egypt, misidentification of at least one shipwreck has come to light, but thanks to the many historians involved in the team, the facts have been verified, at the risk of upsetting local experts, and are published here in good faith. While these wrecks do not boast the kudos of wartime stories or Greek tragedies, they do offer an alternative to repetitive swims along similar looking reefs. These man made reefs offer the new diver an insight into the exciting world of shipwreck exploration and often become class rooms for skill development. This paper is by no means complete, the story unfinished. The last expedition raised as many questions as answers. Do the Maldives have more hidden treasures than just the reefs, manta’s, sharks and fishes? At least twenty known vessels still remain undiscovered. Perhaps they lie on some as yet undived reef. Perhaps ZHENG HE’s treasure still awaits, perhaps not, it may lie deep under hundreds of years of coral, but as we found with the Ottoman trader from 1700c (text books told us the wooden frame work should have dissolved hundreds of years ago), history has its own way of revealing itself, often in the least expected places. The RSWA plan to return to these waters when time permits and continue its work. Any new discoveries will be added to this publication thereafter.



The E book concept The idea of the E BOOK series came about after seeing so many incorrect publications quoting the wrong identity of the Tile Wreck at Abu Nuha s in the Red Sea. Despite a plethora of undeniable facts presented by myself and members of the Red Sea Wreck Academy, self proclaiming experts still, for reasons known only to themselves, continued to quote the MARCUS as the CHRISOULA K. It was archive photographs from Howard Rosenstien and the location of the ships bell, which added weight to Stepha n Jablonski’s accounts of the sinkings’. This new material gave us enough to produce the first E book in 2008. Being free from restrictions it soon found its way around the world and was passed on from diver to diver. It had the desired effect-Now more and more reports carry the correct identity. Its success lead to more titles being produced and publis hed .Initially with an Egyptia n theme, the Thistlegorm, Rosalie Moller and the Russian warranted a volume to themselves. Tourist authorities have noticed the importance of their assets. Wrecks are living underwater museums, and commissions have flooded in from Leros, Egypt, Truk, Palau,Sri La nka Subic Bay, and Busuanga, to name but a few. Promoting tourism through shipwrecks” has become our mission statement, and by the end of 2015 we will have completed 20 titles in the series. We intend to update the guides annually-all free in readable format (72dpi) and in hi res, printable versions from the deeplens website for a small fee. So now we have a total of 20 titles available, (and more on the way), yours to enjoy and pass on-to anyone who may be interested- with my compliments and don’t forget we run regular expeditions and safaris to all these featured Wrecks…The project has only just begun….





CHAPTER 1 Treasure Islands? The Ming Dynasty:-Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored a series of seven naval expeditions. The Yongle emperor designed them to establish a Chinese presence, impose imperial control over trade and impress foreign peoples in the Indian Ocean basin. He also might have wanted to extend the tributary system, by which Chinese dynasties traditionally recognized foreign people. The Voyages of Admiral Zheng He.

Zheng He was originally named 'Ma He' and was born in 1371 at Jinning, just south of Kunming near the southwest corner of Lake Tian in Yunnan. In 1381, the year his father was killed, and only eleven years old, he was captured, made a eunuch and sent to the Imperial court, where he was called 'San Bao' meaning 'Three Jewels'. He eventually became a trusted adviser of the Yongle Emperor, assisting him in deposing his predecessor, the Jianwen Emperor. In return for meritorious service, he received the name Zheng He, from the Yongle Emperor. In 1425 the Hongxi Emperor appointed him to be Defender of Nanjing. In 1428 the Xuande Emperor ordered him to complete the construction of the magnificent Buddhist nine-storied Da Baoen Temple in Nanjing. Zheng He was placed as the admiral in control of the huge fleet and armed forces that undertook these expeditions. Wang Jinghong was appointed his second in command. Zheng He's first voyage consisted of a fleet of 317 treasure ships (other sources say 200 ships) holding almost 28,000 crewmen (each ship housing up to 500 men), and in 1430 appointed him to lead the seventh and final expedition


to the "Western Ocean". Zheng He died during the treasure fleet's last voyage, on the returning trip after the fleet reached Hormuz in 1433. Zheng He generally sought to attain his goals through diplomacy. His large army awed most would-be enemies into submission, but a contemporary reported that Zheng He "walked like a tiger". He did not shrink from violence when he considered it necessary to impress foreign peoples with China's military might ruthlessly suppressed pirates who had long plagued Chinese and southeast Asian waters. He also waged a land war against the Kingdom of Kotte in Ceylon, and he made displays of military force when local officials threatened his fleet in Arabia and East Africa. From his fourth voyage he brought envoys from thirty states that travelled to China and paid their respects at the Ming court. In 1424, the Yongle Emperor died. His successor, the Hongxi Emperor, reigned 1424–1425, and decided to stop the voyages during his short reign. Zheng He made one more voyage under the Xuande Emperor (reigned 1426–1435), but then the voyages of the Chinese treasure ship fleets were ended.



1st Voyage


2nd Voyage


3rd Voyage


Regions along the way[15] Champa, Java, Palembang, M alacca, Aru, Sumatra, Lambri, Ceylon, Kollam, Cochin, Calicut Champa, Java, Siam, Cochin, Ceylon Champa, Java, M alacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Lambri, Kaya, Coimbatore, Puttanpur Champa, Java, Palembang, M alacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Kayal, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, Lambri, Hormuz, M aldives, M ogadishu, Barawa, M alindi, Aden, M uscat, Dhufar Champa, Pahang, Java, M alacca, Sumatra, Lambri, Ceylon, Sharwayn, Cochin, Calicut, Hormuz, M aldives, M ogadishu, Barawa, M alindi, Aden

4th Voyage


5th Voyage


6th Voyage


Hormuz, East Africa, countries of the Arabian Peninsula

7th Voyage


Champa, Java, Palembang, M alacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz... (17 states in total)


Zheng He commanded seven expeditions. The 1405 expedition consisted of 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure ships supported by approximately 190 smaller ships. The fleet included:Treasure ships; used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies (ninemasted, about 126.73 metres long and 51.84 metres wide), according to later writers. The treasure ships purportedly could carry as much as 1,500 tons. Equine ships; carrying horses, tribute goods and repair material for the fleet (eight-masted, about 103 m long and 42 m wide). Supply ships; containing staple for the crew (seven-masted, about 78 m long and 35 m wide). Troop transports; six-masted, approx. 67 m long and 25 m wide. Fuchuan warships; five-masted, approx 50 m long. Patrol boats; eight-oared, approx 37 m long. Water tankers with 1 month's supply of fresh water. Zheng He led seven expeditions to what the Chinese called "the Western Ocean" (Indian Ocean). He brought back to China many trophies and envoys from more than thirty kingdoms including King Alagakkonara of Ceylon, who came to China as a captive to apologize to the Emperor. The records of Zheng's last two voyages, which are believed to be his farthest, were unfortunately destroyed by the Ming emperor. Therefore it is never certain where Zheng had sailed in these two expeditions. The traditional view is that he went as far as Iran. Zheng He died during the treasure fleet's last voyage. Although he has a tomb in China, it is empty: he was, like many great admirals, buried at sea. :


PYRARD François Pyrard de Laval (ca. 1578 – ca. 1623) was a French navigator who is known for his accounts of his experiences while shipwrecked in the Maldives from 1602 to 1607. On July 2, 1602 Pyrard and a handful of sailors were shipwrecked on the South Maalhosmadulu Atoll of the Maldives. They were taken captive by the Maldivians and spent five years as "unwilling guests" on the islands; most of their time spent on Malé. The sailors endured malaria and sporadic cruel treatment during their captivity. In the 16th century, a Chinese ship with a cargo of porcelain and Chinese merchandise was wrecked near the island of Guraidhoo. Pyrard, who visited the island in 1605 recorded:-

”I was at that island one day, and saw the mast and rudder of the ship that was lost there. 1 was told it was the richest ship conceivable. It had on board some 500 persons, men, women, and children, for the Indians take the greater part of their household to sea with them. These 500 persons were nigh all drowned, and there remained but a hundred saved. This ship came from Sunda (Indonesia), laden with all kinds of spices and other merchandise of China and Sunda. Judging merely from the mast of this vessel, I thought it the largest I had ever seen, for the mast was taller and thicker than those of the Portuguese carracks; and the king of the Maldives built a shed of the length of the mast to keep it as a curiosity. I saw also another mast and a top much larger than those of Portugal. Thus was I led to believe that in the Indies they build vessels larger and of better material than in Portugal or anywhere else in the world. The greatest ships come from the coast of Arabia, Persia, and Mogor, and some have as many as 2,000 persons on board”.





CHAPTER 2 Haa-Alif Atoll S.S.VICISSITUDE 1836; a sailing ship on a journey from Mauritius to Ceylon was wrecked at Ihavandhippolhu-fulu (HAA-ALIF ATOLL). UNKNOWN WRECK (HATHIFUSHI); an unidentified wreck sank 30th July 1917. S.S.OCEANO (KADUFUSHI); a British 4657 ton, 369 ft x 52 ft steal hulled single screw cargo ship built in 1900 by Russell & Co at Glasgow for Andrew Weir & Co, sailing under the Bank Line flag. She was capable of producing 403 nhp from her triple expansion steam engine. She was wrecked during a voyage from Port Said to Calcutta with a cargo of salt on the 19th July 1917, while under the command of Master George. CAPTAIN PENTAILS. (FILLADHOO); 3132 ton freighter sank 4th June 1963.

HAA-DHAAL ATOLL ROYAL FAMILY (RUFFFUSHI) a wooden vessel from Liverpool, wrecked 19 th Aug 1868, 1750 tons, on a voyage from Aden to Callao in balast. PERSIA MERCHANT (MAKUNUDHOO). In August 1658, fi ve months after her departure from England, the Persia Merchant was wrecked on Maamakunudhoo Atoll, while en route to Bengal. On board were eight chests of silver and probably gold from West Africa. Salvage was attempted at the time of loss but was unsuccessful. Many were drowned, but the 50 survi vors were well treated by the i slanders and after one month they were given a good boat in which they sailed to Sri Lanka. Among the


survi vors were Captai n Roger Wi lliams and the mariner-captai n Roger Middleton, who wrote an account of his adventures to his family after reaching India. Mi ddleton said the ship fi lled wi th water qui ckly, leaving the survivors wi th nothing and wi thin four hours she had broken into pieces. One of the boats sunk under the ship, leaving just one other to rescue the victims. The survi vors found their way by boat and broken pieces of the ship to an uninhabited island south of Makunudhoo, but wi thout food, drink or arms. Mi ddleton ”Being without food, wee ranged about the island. Wee found a well of water, of which wee dranke like pigeons, lifting head and harts for soe greate a mercy. Thus drinking water, by good providence wee found coker nutt trees, which is both food and payment, soe wee went by the sea side and found little shell fish and the like, but wanting fire wee tooke sticks and rubbed them together untill they kindled, thus wee lived heare ten or twelve dayes, not knowing wheather it was better for us to be seen by the Neighbouring Islanders, for the ancient seamen sayd they would cutt our throats. Att last there arived three of their boats full of men, which wee dreaded but could not resist”. The stricken castaways were taken to the i sland of Kuburudhoo (South Thiladhunmathee) "Where wee had fish and other good things, as honey and rice, on which wee, feed like farmers". For the price of a gold chai n and 100 dollars from one of the merchants, they obtai ned a vessel and sailed to Ceylon.

HAYSTON (MAKUNUDHOO); an English sailing vessel with a cargo of wine, spices, metals and glass was wrecked “in the Male Atol” in 1819. The Hayston, a three-mast English vessel commanded by Captain Sartorius, set out from Isle-de-France (Mauritius) for Calcutta on July 1, 1819. For several days bad weather had prevented them from taking any observations and on July 20th at 8pm, some reefs were noticed in the gloomy darkness. There was little time to tack and the ship struck the reef on Maamakunudhoo Atoll on the north west of the Maldives. Within a quarter of an hour there was seven feet of water in the hold and the ship's crew were at the mercy of the elements. Next morning the sailors discovered they had run on to an enormous reef, as far as the eye could see, which turned out to be covered with water on the high tide. A small islet was seen by telescope 25 km away which they called the "Isle of Hope". On the 22nd, three sailors tried to reach this isle by raft but were never seen again. On the 24th, every sailor was employed in building a raft large enough to carry them all, but when it was nearly completed the Lascar sailors cut the rope and sailed away. One man, who tried to reach them, was threatened with an axe. 18

The long boat was taken out from the ship but was damaged on the reef and went adrift with a woman and her two daughters and three men, who were never heard of again. Then the barge was launched and it was not long before she capsized and split on the reef. A Maldivian sailing boat was seen and appeared to be heading in their direction, so an officer, Schultz, and some crew gave chase in a dinghy. After several hours rowing, they found they were separated by the boat by a big reef and it passed by without noticing the castaways. Two more sailors, Serang and his brother, were separated from the remaining survivors when a raft on which they were paddling between the reef and the shipwreck, was caught in the current and drifted away to the south east. In another accident, a rope was stretched between the reef and the ship and a young boy died trying to return to the ship. Finally, on the 26th some sailors embarked on the small dinghy and sailed for the Isle of Hope. They were discovered by fishermen from the island of Makunudhoo and the remaining passengers were rescued. The survivors arrived in Male on August 4 and were treated with much hospitality. On August 10, Serang and his brother arrived in Male'. After drifting away on their raft, they spent three nights and four days out at sea and passed eleven islands before they landed on an uninhabited island. They were both very weak and survived on coconuts before being rescued by a passing fishing boat. They were conducted to the island where the fishermen lived and were treated with much kindness. On August 14, the six Lascars who stole the large raft, arrived at Male'. They resorted to lies to explain the infamy of their behaviour, claiming the raft had been broken, had gone adrift and the current had carried them away. Despite their treachery, they were treated equally by the sultan. The wreck of the Hayston is noted for the humanity of the Maldivians and generosity of the sultan. In all cases, the castaways were well provided for and the sultan would not allow them to pay for anything in his country. NUUNU ATOLL- SHAVIYANI GEORGE REID; 1872 a 115 ton British iron hulled sailing ship on a journey from London to Galle, to pick up a cargo was wrecked “ on the south west barrier of Milaghummadulu Atoll (Shavitani and Noonu Atolls)� on 25th September 1872. 19



SKIPJACK 11 The Skipjack 11 was being towed out to sea to be scuttled when it caught fire and was cut from its tow. It drifted onto the reef between the islands of Felavaru and Gaaverifaru sinking stern first, the bow still protruding out of the water to this day. She had been a fish factory then used as a freezer unit until it was no longer serviceable. The stern of the vessel is in 30 metres, holds and superstructure easy to explore. Strong currents can prevail over both wrecks. The attitude of the wreck makes for an exhilarating dive, starting off with a plummet down the outside sheltered from the current with a visit to the wheelhouse on the sea bed. If no current is present then a swim to explore the second wreck is a must, otherwise you can swim slowly up through the hull of the Skipjack.


We made several dives on these two wrecks and witnessed eagle rays sweeping into the seabed hunting. NOT A DIVE FOR THE BEGINNER.

The attitude of the wreck allows the diver to plummet through the hull down to the seabed where the bridge section can be found. The hull also offers protection from the strong currents which often prevail.

M.V.GAAFARU; only metres away from the Skipjack is another factory ship; this one also scuttled but now lies on its portside in 30 metres. Festooned in marine life it is a dive or two in its own right with endless photo opportunities. Both wrecks are totally covered in marine life and are full of sweepers and reef fishes. The structure is relatively intact and there are many areas to explore inside the wrecks.


Like father like son; a very young Matthew Collings on his first wreck expedition, at the age of 13 exploring the bridge of the Skipjack.




Email: deeplens@AOL.COM;

For over 20 years we have been successfully organizing and leading photographic and shipwreck safaris around the world, using the very best liveaboards and dive centres. Our destinations include:


Truk Lagoon Maldives





CHAPTER 4 BAA ATOLL-GOIDHOO THE CORBIN; a French ship of 400 tons, which set sail from St Malo with the Croissant on May 18, 1601, in search of trade with the east. Plagued by misfortune and ill discipline, the Corbin was destined for disaster and met its end on Goidhoo, or Horsburgh Atoll, on July 2, 1602. It was carrying a cargo of silver and attempted salvage at the time of loss was unsuccessful because of deep water. At the start of the journey, a bad omen occurred when the mast broke and the crew threatened to jump ship. Sickness and desertions threatened the expedition before the ship had even begun to cross the Indian Ocean. The stifling heat had destroyed many provisions, the water was putrid, fish and meat had gone bad and was full of big worms, butter had turned to oil, and scurvy was rampant. A short stay of 15 days at Malail li, one of the Comoroes islands, vastly improved the health of the crew before they crossed the Indian Ocean. On July 1, some reefs and islands were sighted which were correctly recognized as the Maldives by the English pilot. The night was supposed to be spent beating about, but the Corbin was virtually left to herself. During the night the captains was ill and in his bunk, the mate and second mate were drunk and the watch was asleep. In the early hours of the morning of July 2, the ship struck the reef. Of the 40 or so survivors, one band of 12 men stole a boat and made it to India. Only four of the remainder survived the five year captivity. One of them was Francois Pyrard, who wrote about his adventures when he returned. It wasn't until February 1607, when an expedition from Chittagong invaded the capital, that Pyrard and his three remaining companions were taken to India and eventually returned to France. Ironically, it was the excellent cannon on board the Corbin that the raiding party was after, which eventually freed the captives. The treatment of Pyrard and his companions by the Maldivians was uncharacteristically cruel but their fate was largely determined by their conduct in the days following the wreck of the Corbin. All the silver and the most precious merchandise were stowed at the bottom of the ship which, after running onto the reef was under water and irretrievable. What remained of the silver was hidden in their waistbands. During their first night on Fulhadhoo, they hid their waistbands for fear they should be searched by the islanders. At length, the sailors obtained little to eat and were dying of hunger, so they unearthed the coins and offered money for food, which they received. In turn, the natives would give nothing except for money and before long the coins started to run out. 25

Pyrard wrote: “those who had money, and who by this means could obtain food, filled their bellies without discretion; and being in a country where the air is very unhealthy for all strangers, even for those of a similar climate, they fell ill, and died one after another, nay more, in place of receiving aid and consolation from their fellows, those who were without money and in great need came and stripped them, and took their money before they were dead, the healthy who survived fought with one another who should have it, and banded themselves two against two, and finally messmate against messmate, with so little charity, that they would see their comrades and fellow countrymen die before their eyes without giving them any assistance or succour. I have never seen a sight so pitiable and deplorable”. Pyrard was taken with two other crewmembers to another island, Fehendhoo. Unlike the others, they had no belts of money and although this caused some trouble at first, they found they were better off with nothing, as little by little, the natives gave them some food. News of the wreck and the money reached Male and commissioners were sent to Fulhadhoo to secure the wreck on behalf of the sultan. All merchandise and money from shipwrecks automatically became the property of the sultan and Maldivians were prohibited from selling anything to the shipwreck victims. When the commissioner arrived at Fulhadhoo, he demanded to know who had the money from the vessel. To get hold of it, he arrested all the inhabitants, even the women, and had their thumbs put into cleft sticks and squeezed and bound with iron clasps, to see if they would confess. The villagers on the island of Pyrard's captivity were in no trouble when it was proved they had taken nothing, for which they were grateful. Pyrard took great pains to learn their language and by doing so was able to largely determine his own destiny and obtain an insight into Maldivian society never before seen by a westerner, on which he wrote extensively. ”I have remarked that nothing served me so much, or so conciliated the goodwill of the people, the lords, and even the king, as to have a knowledge of their language, and that was the reason why I was always preferred to my companions, and more esteemed than they”. The wreck of the Corbin may have passed unnoticed through history were it not for the historical accounts left by Francois Pyrard. His account of the wreck and ensuing captivity makes compelling reading and his description of life in the islands and the customs of the people make his book a valuable source of reference for historians and students of Maldivian history and culture.



S.S.ERLANGEN; was a 2750 ton iron hulled German steamship, built by Blohm und Voss, at Hamburg 1889. She was 321 ft long with a 38ft beam, and her triple expansion engine could deliver 320hp. She was described as a twin deck steel screw schooner, mastered by Captain E Oohnsorg. She sank during a storm in 1894 while on a voyage from Ceylon to Germany fully laden. Until quite recently, it was thought this was the large wreck lying in a central location on the reef; however when the Red Sea Wreck Academy carried out a survey of the area looking for the S.S.Aracan, a fiddlers plate revealed a new identity to the wreck age. Thus the Erlangen remains unfound. S.S.SEAGULL; 1012 ton, 32 crew 2 passengers, reputed to have sunk in 1879 similar in build to the Dunraven lies on the north east of Gaafaru Island. She was a Carnatic like ship; iron hulled, single screw, primitive steam engine and rigged for sail. She was on a voyage from London to Calcutta. The stern is the only part which is relatively intact and lies on its starboard side in 35 metres at the base of the reef. The wreckage starts in 5 metres and is strewn over the reef covered in corals. Her bow sprit points towards the surface but is also well dispersed. Remains of the 2 cylinder inverted compound engine can still be seen in the shallows. There is also evidence of a traction engine, and this may play a part in the eventual identification of the wreck. Despite intensive research we have not been able to formally identify this wreck or prove that a ship of this name existed, and confirmation would be welcomed! THE LADY CHRISTINE; a cable laying vessel which ran aground on April 16th 1974 in a heavy swell on the western side of the atoll below Hulhangu Kandu, while laying communication cables. Despite salvage attempts she sank and her remains now lie from 10 metres to 30 metres. Her engine cable laying drums and other deck fittings can be explored nd the entire wreck is covered in a vast array of corals, supporting a great multitude of fish life. Built in 1965 at Bremerhaven by Schiffb Unterwesser. Panamanian registered, she was owned by International Offshore Services (Liberia) Ltd 862 tons, 178 ft long with a 32 ft beam and a 23 ft draught. (dodas3/263) 27

S.S. “ARACAN� (GAARARU); built in 1854 at Whitehaven for the Brocklebank Shipping Co, a 1174 ton iron hulled, Glasgow registered vessel, voyaged from Rangoon to London and sank Aug 12th 1873, with 42 crew and 12 passengers (alt spec-788t, 183x37x23). Her Master was SC Harwood. The wreck now lies in two halves, located to the west of Iruvai Kandu. On the northern tip of the atoll, the stern lies in 45 metres on its starboard side with a typical propeller of its day (akin to the Ulysses).The engine room can be explored revealing her triple expansion engine. Lying in the reef are her two massive boilers masts and cargo remains. Her bow section now well dispersed lies in 15 metres and the ribs and framework make excellent photo backdrops.


She was the subject and one of the main targets for the RSWA, however, noticing a raised section on the windlass. Sitting upright in the shallows, members of the team cleaned away the concretion to reveal the date 1871, and DUMBARTON. Clearly this could not be the Erlangen; she was not built until 1889.Our contacts in Glasgow confirmed that the ARACAN was fitted with a steam windlass in 1871.


A maker’s plate, the “Fiddlers Seat” was uncovered on the windlass of the

wreck thought



to be




identity; Matthew Paul &co, Dumbarton 1871 Yard No 84 Patent Steam Windlass Patentees & Makers” CLAN ALPINE (GAARARU); 362 barque wrecked October 1879 on a voyage from Mauritius to Bombay with a cargo of sugar registered at Leith. GAARARU; wrecked in 1905, with a cargo of sugar cargo sugar, she lies 200 metres north of the shallow entrance at Gaaararu. The anchor is visible at low tide with her funnel, ribs and spars in shallow water. SWISS (HELEGELI); 1397 ton iron hulled barque, cargo of iron, sank May 29th 1890 on route from Pondicherry to Marseilles. DHORAMA; lies on top of the reef south of the Swiss and is broken up.



MALDIVE VICTORY; built in Scotland at Leith by Henry Rob Ltd. The 1420 ton, 82 metres general cargo motor vessel was owned by the Maldives Shipping Co. She was returning to her home port from Singapore when she struck Helule Island reef at the entrance to Male Harbour on Feb 12th 1981 and sank on the west side of the reef next morning. Perhaps the best wreck in the Maldives, sitting upright and swept by strong currents she is a challenging and worthwhile dive, worthy of several visits. Her accommodation block offers exciting areas of exploration for the experienced diver trained in wreck diving techniques.



NORTH MALE ATOLL - HEMBADHOO TUGBOAT WRECK; only 20 metres long this is an intact tugboat, sitting upright in 22 metres. Sunk as a diving attraction in 1988, it has an intact wheelhouse forward, with mast still in place, behind which is a small hold, with deck winches at the stern. The wreck is a haven for marine life and there are vast assortments of invertebrates as well as fish to be encountered.

NORTH MALE ATOLL - IHURU ISLAND THE DREDGER WRECK, RANNAMARI; having completed its work in land reclamation this 21 metres dredger, originally from Singapore, was stripped of its engine, batteries, oil and other contaminates and prepared for sinking as a diving attraction on the 25th April 1999. Before she could be sunk she filled with water and sank of her own accord. She now lies on a flat sandy bed in 25 metres on her side.


SOUTH MALE ATOLL - GURAIDHOO GURAIDHOO WRECK; in the 16th century, a Chinese ship with a cargo of porcelain and Chinese merchandise was wrecked near the island of Guraidhoo. Pyrard, who visited the island in 1605 recorded:-

”I was at that island one day, and saw the mast and rudder of the ship that was lost there. 1 was told it was the richest ship conceivable. It had on board some 500 persons, men, women, and children, for the Indians take the greater part of their household to sea with them. These 500 persons were nigh all drowned, and there remained but a hundred saved. This ship came from Sunda (Indonesia), laden with all kinds of spices and other merchandise of China and Sunda. Judging merely from the mast of this vessel, I thought it the largest I had ever seen, for the mast was taller and thicker than those of the Portuguese carracks; and the king of the Maldives built a shed of the length of the mast to keep it as a curiosity. I saw also another mast and a top much larger than those of Portugal. Thus was I led to believe that in the Indies they build vessels larger and of better material than in Portugal or anywhere else in the world. The greatest ships come from the coast of Arabia, Persia, and Mogor, and some have as many as 2,000 persons on board”. “Old folk on Guraidhoo still talk about a wooden ship believed to be wrecked on Medhu Faru near Guraidhoo centuries ago; however no visible remains are to be seen”.

“H” TRAWLER. VILIGANDHU. RAS DHU ATOLL; yet another fishing vessel; this time an ocean going trawler sitting upright on a sandy bottom in 27metres out from the resort of Veligandu. The hull is covered in red sea squirts and corals. A storm fo’c’sle covers, and refrigeration equipment is still evident in the holds. Her engine and bridge areas are accessible, and there is collision damage on the bow. Sea bass and snapper are amongst the shoaling fish.



CHAPTER 7 ARI ATOLL FISH TRANSPORTER WRECK, KUREDO; located at the northern end of Viligili Falhu, this is a 30 metre long fish transport vessel lying with her stern in 35 metres and her bow rising up towards the surface. The wheel house and holds are full of sweepers and the wreck is heavily encrusted with soft and hard corals. There is a swim through under the ships keel and here fish gather at a cleaning station.


FESDU WRECK; located at the northern end of Viligili Falhu, this 30 metre trawler sits intact and upright on a sloping sandy bottom from 35 to 29 metres, with a surrounding eel garden. A small 3 cylinder steam engine can still be found and access is via the galley at the rear of the wheel house. The


and holds

are full of sweepers.




superstructure are covered in both soft and hard corals. Its compactness allows for full exploration and is great for photography.


HALAVELI WRECK (STINGRAY WRECK); sank in 1991 intentionally as a diving attraction, this 40 metre long coastal cargo ship sits upright in 30 meters, close to the reef on a sandy shelf.







positioned aft. Attracts a large variety of life, although the stingrays seem to be less apparent. KUDA GIRI WRECK; a 40 metre long cargo ship sitting upright in 30 metres to within 15 metres of the surface. The superstructure is situated aft, with raised stern and winches, forward of the bridge is a single hold, foremast, then raised fo’c’le. There are many areas of easy access for penetration. The handrails and canopy are totally encrusted, intact and teeming with life. Large green trees of coral grow all over the wreck and the winch is surrounded by clouds of antheas. Purpose sunk as a diving attraction.



SOUTH ARI ATOLL KHUDI MAA. Situated near the village of Machchafushi, in the south east of South Ari Atoll, this is the wreck of a bulk cargo ship some 44metres long. She sits upright in 31 metres of water on a sandy bottom, her masts still rising to within 10 metres of the surface. She is covered in life from bow to stern and attracts large shoals of horse eyed jacks, and snappers. The superstructure is situated aft above the engine room. The galley, helm radio mast and funnel are all interesting features. Forward of the bridge is a crane with its jib pointing forward, the control cab easily accessible. One continuous hold runs towards the bow, home to many spinney lobsters. Her fo’c’sle is accessed from a deck hatch and












AL KARIM; located near Ranveli Village on the east side of South Ari Atoll sits a bulk cargo ship upright in 33metres, about 60 metres long, on sand surrounded by an eel garden. Sunk in 2000, her superstructure boast 3 levels and is located aft and features a galley, bridge, adjoining corridors and access to the engine room. Her engine was removed prior to sinking. The holds are empty and beginning to fill with sand. The fo’c’sle has an anchor winch and square ventilators run the length of the wreck.




FAAR ATOLL - HIMITHI DURAS 1777; a French sailing vessel wrecked on the 12th April 1777.


KM AGRO MINA 11; in November 2009 this fishing boat was purposely sunk at the north side of FILTHEYO in 30metres, as an attraction for resident divers. It is a wooden hulled fishing boat sitting almost upright, with a lean-to starboard. Like many of the other man made wrecks in the Maldives, it is of the same layout, single hold forward, with the wheelhouse aft sitting on top of the galley and engine room. The position of the wreck means it gets swept with good currents, so soft corals should start to colonise the wreck quite quickly. .

MADI GE; a small trawler sank in September 2000 off Mirihi resort. Lies bow down in the sand and attracts batfish, glass fish and jacks; in 20 metres.


RHANDI 11; situated on the south east corner of South Ari Atol; sunk in 1998 in 20 metres. DURAS; a French sailing vessel which sunk in 1777, April 12th . ALIF ATOL L - KURAMATHI SS REINDER REINDEEER? a British vessel, registered in Liverpool, on a journey from Mauritius to Galle in ballast 965 ton, 26 crew, wrecked 29th May 1868. VAAVU ATOLL- HIGAAKULHI PIONEER; a general cargo vessel, built in 1899 at Danzig by Johannsen as the RIO; she later became the EXPRES, then the EXPRESS, before she was renamed by her final owners O Nielson (Denmark). She was wrecked on a voyage from Colombo to Male was wrecked on 13th May 1958 with a general cargo. Fitted with oil engines, 2 SA 2cy 320x320(91 X 20 X8)





MEEMU ATOLL - MADUVARRI RAVENSTEIN; the 800 ton Dutch East Indiaman Ravestein was sailing to Jakarta from the Netherlands with a valuable cargo of gold and silver when it ran aground at Madhuveri Island in Mulaku Atoll on May 8, 1726. At the time of loss, nine chests of silver and one chest of gold were recovered. The captain, Antony Klink, sent the rest of the crew to Male, while he remained for one month at the island near where the vessel was lost. The arrogant conduct of Klink tested the patience of the Maldivians, in particular, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar II (1720 - 50 AD). In a letter sent to the Dutch Governor of Ceylon, the sultan said Klink did nothing but complain bitterly of the inhabitants of the islands. The Sultan wrote:�He [the captain] expected them to work like European sailors, not taking into consideration the fact that they are only wretched creatures who look upon the smallest service extracted from them as a grievous oppression. You are well aware gentlemen, of the nature of the islanders� When the captain arrived in Male on June 13, he demanded from the sultan 50 men and four large boats to save the property of the company. The sultan was outraged by this extraordinary demand and gave no answer and, in any case, was not prepared to send boats to the site as the vessel was cast away on a place to which a small boat can approach only with difficulty, as the seas were rough and the surf dangerous. The Dutch were invited to return in the calmer months to attempt further recovery and the crew of the shipwrecked Ravestein were returned to Ceylon with the gold and silver chests and other goods recovered from the wreck. MEEMU ATOLL - MAALHAVELI PRAZERE ALGERIA;The Prazer e Allegria left Lisbon, Portugal, on November 8, 1843 with 84 convicts and relief officers and others, bound for Goa, India. She reached the Cape of Good Hope with the loss of 29 convicts from scurvy and on March 16, 1844, the crew sighted several islands which the captain declared were the Maldives. With the current running at three miles an hour towards land, the captain continued on the same course. 47

Major de Quinhones, who was in charge of the convicts, said in a report of the disaster: �At about 4 o'clock in the evening the ship was so near land that we could see the people distinctly; and it was then that a little boat manned by blacks, and with an English jack fixed at the poop, came off from one of the islands. Approaching the ship one of the Moors pointed towards a channel which lies between three or four islands. The Captain hailed the Moors, and told them to come on board; but seeing the convicts they immediately departed through fear, lowering the jack. Thus we were committed to the current, which every moment drove us much nearer land, and upon a reef of coral which lies opposite the second island. The night was dark, and there was lightning; the breakers dashed incessantly on the sides of the ship, forcing her more on to the reef; at length the rudder broke, and the ship rested; but a large leak was sprung. All of us worked the pumps, but it was impossible to reduce the water�. The ship had struck the reef off Muli Island in Mulaku Atoll and on the morning of the 18th, the passengers and crew were transported to Muli Island without loss of life. On the following day the cock-boat, the long boat, and a hired boat from the villagers were dispatched in order to procure more provisions but all three boats were sunk by waves. El even lives were lost, mostly convicts. The 104 survivors remai ned on the island of Muli for fi ve days before being transported to the "King's Island". It took seven days sailing by day only and stoppi ng the ni ght at islands to reach Male. The captai n hired two catamarans to transport the survi vors to Ceylon, among whom were two ladies and three children RAYVILLA WRECK; lies inside Meenu midway down the west pass. KALHAUOHFUMMI; noted to have sunk here in 1573, south east of Kohovaariyaafushi, south east corner of Mukuku Atoll.

DHAAL ATOLL- KUDAHUVADHOO LIFFEY; bui lt in 1870 by Potters at Liverpool for WCA Altringham; this 3 hold screw schooner was mastered by G.H. Rake, when on a voyage from Mauritius to Calcutta she wrecked on 3 August 1879. The vessel was 116ft long fi tted wi th a 2 cylinder, direct acting steam engi ne produci ng 30hp. UTHEEMU 1; wrecked on 15 th July 1960.



LAAAMU ATOLL - MAAVAH FRANCEOIS; the French registered vessel was on a voyage from Bourbon to Calcutta when she was wrecked on the 3RD June 1873.

LAAMU ATOLL - HADDUMMATHI ST. CLAIR PARAMATTA; a small sail ing vessel, crew of 11 wrecked in 1855. LAAMU ATOLL - ISDHOO LAGAN BANK; a 5583 ton, British twin screw steel steam ship with a cargo of Jute Gunnies was wrecked on1 3th January 1938, while on a voyage from Calcutta to The River Plate. UMAANA; an unknown vessel which sank in 1903.

GAAF ALIF ATOLL- MAAMUTAA ATOLL NICOLAOS S. EMBIRICOS (FORE SECTION); a Greek general motor vessel, 8460 ton, 469 ft long, 61 ft beam, 39 ft draught, bui lt in 1958 by Cammel Laird Ltd Birkenhead for the Ci a, Navigation Epsilon S.A. On May 15 th, 1969 she ran aground on Sunadiv a Atoll while on a voyage from Calcutta to the United States Gulf wi th a cargo of 6.139 tons of jute gunni es, cotton and tea. Number 1 & 2 holds flooded and 3 tugs tried unsuccessfully for 13 days to refloat the vessel. Most of the crew abandoned ship and the master and 3 offi cers remai ned on board until it was concluded that the ship was lost. The salvors then decided to break the vessel in two wi th explosives and cutting, leaving the forepeak behind. This was accomplished on July 14th and the day after the jute caught fire causing severe damage to the superstructure and the engi ne room. The refloated stern section was eventually taken to Si ngapore to be scrapped.

GAAF ALIF ATOLL - VILIGILI UNKNOWN VESSEL; reported to be a liner with 700 passengers on board ran aground 24th May 1902 - more research required. SPIRIT; wrecked on the Gaaf Alif and Gaaaf Dhaal Atolls, September 1856. AEGEAN 1873; an iron hulled sailing ship of 836 tons registered in Leith, on a voyage from Sourabaya to Amsterdam with a cargo of tobacco cotton and sugar was wrecked at Gaaf Alif and Gaaaf Dhaal Atolls on May 4th , 1873. 49

ADELINE 1874; a 145 ton 3 masted, iron hulled schooner of French registry, sailing from Mauritius to Colombo with a cargo of sugar and empty casks which sand in 1874. S.S.CONSETT; built in 1872 by Mitchells (who also built the Dunraven) for William Milburn & Co. She was 1727 tons, 259ft long screw schooner; her 2 cylinder direct acting steam engine was built at Hawthorns Marine engine works at Wallsend. She was mastered by J. Hodgeson, when she was wrecked on the 7th May, 1880 sailing from Bassien to Port Said with a cargo of rice. On the north east edge of Gaaaf Alif/Gaaf Dhall. SEENU ATOLL-HITHADHOO

BRITISH LOYALTY; a 5583 ton British oi l tanker, bui lt in 1928 by Palmers of Newcastle. She survived an attack by a midget submarine in Diego Suarez harbour May 30 th 1944. Damaged but repaired, she was torpedoed in Addo Atoll harbour and remai ned there until the end of the war when she was sunk by gunfi re from a British warship during the British wi thdrawal of Gan on Jan 5 th 1946. She lies between the island of Maradhoo and Hithahoo on her starboard side in 33 metres. The port side i s in 16 metres, bow poi nting north she is 140 metres long wi th a centre i sland bridge arrangement and stern engi ne room. The hole made by the torpedo is huge and divers can gai n access to her interior through this. Rai sed walkways connect the centre i sland to the fo’c’ sle and aft superstructure. 50

CHAPTER 9 Other vessels known to have foundered:L’ ECUREUIL; 204 ton French brig, registered at Bayonne, with a crew of 10; was on a voyage from Buenos Aires to Singapore in ballast, when she was wrecked on the reefs of “One and a Half Degree Channel”. TRANQUABAR; a sailing vessel on a voyage to Colombo with a cargo of cloth; wrecked “near MALE” on 29th Jan 1797. EUROPA; a sailing vessel with a cargo of arms and cloth; was wrecked “in the southern atolls” 23 may 1812. JAMES MC INROY; 1837 Exact location unknown. Kanzler; built by Blohm Und Voss, owned by Indian trading Co. Dada Mia Khandani , 3136 tons, 321 ft x 39.2 x 27, triple expansion engine, general cargo. Sank Aug 14th 1914 Karachi to Mauritius.

SS Khedive Ismail; the 7,513 ton steamship was launched as the Aconcagua by Scotts of Greenock in 1922. The Aconcagua passed into Egyptian ownership in 1935 and was renamed Khedive Ismail . In 1940 the Khedive Ismail was requisitioned as a British troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).

On 6 February 1944 Convoy KR-8, consisting of 5 troop ships, sailed from Kilindini Harbour at Mombasa, Kenya to Colombo, Ceylon, escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins and the destroyers HMS Petard and HMS Paladin. In the early afternoon of Saturday 12 February 1944, the Japanese B1 type submarine I-27, commanded by Lt-Cdr Toshiaki Fukumura, attacked the convoy in the One and a Half Degree Channel, south-west of the Maldives.


The ship was carrying 1,511 personnel including 178 crew, 996 officers and men of the East African Artillery's 301st Field Regiment, 271 Royal Navy personnel, and a detachment of 19 Wrens. Also on board were 53 nursing sisters accompanied by one matron, and 9 members of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. As survivors floundered in the sea, I-27 submerged and hid beneath them. While HMS Paladin lowered boats over her side to begin rescuing survivors, HMS Petard raced in to release depth charges. The destruction of an enemy submarine that might sink more ships took precedence over the lives of the survivors, and I-27 under Commander Fukumura had a history of machinegunning survivors of ships she had sunk. On Petard’s third run, her depth charges forced I-27 to the surface. Paladin rammed the submarine, in the process causing considerable damage to herself. Finally a torpedo from Petard destroyed the I-27. 1,297 people, including 77 women, lost their lives.




PETER COLLINGS. Peter began diving in 1970.In 1983 he wrote the first of 12 diving related books, and has won several international awards for his publications and underwater photography. His articles and photographs have appeared consistently thought the international diving press, Including DIVE, SPORT DIVER, SCOTTISH DIVER and H20. A BSAC Advanced instructor, ( Red Sea Wreck Academy), SSI PRO 5000 DIVER and TDI Advance Trimix diver, Peter has lead over 500 wreck and photo safaris around the world, logging over 6000 dives, and along with his regular team of experts has located and identified many of the shipwrecks in Egyptian waters. To date Peter has written and published 24 diving related guide books.













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