We got to dive the Umbria, one of the world’s best wreck dives and one accessible to recreational divers. The wreck, just north of Port Sudan, is in great condition, relatively easy to dive (though not for novices), and has interesting history.
Why does this have an interesting history? For starters, unlike other wrecks we dove, this one was not sunk to create an artificial reef. It was sunk with purpose.
In June 1940, the Italian vessel was at Port Sudan for supplies when Italy suddenly joined the war. The British, knowing that the boat likely had arms, wanted to detain it and search for contraband. On June 9, British did indeed board the ship to look for contraband. The next morning, June 10, 1940, while his crew as well as the British were still on board, the captain learned that Italy had declared war. He decided to sink the ship rather than turn over the weapons.
The British noticed water filling the ship and gave orders to abandon ship. Although the ship was salvageable, it was deemed too dangerous. Why? It carried over the 360,000 bombs.
The bombs are still there in the cargo hold, as are tons of wine bottle and three Fiats. I never dove near bombs before.
I didn’t get very many photos from the dive, but here is some video.Umbria Wreck Dive from curriedpotato on Vimeo.
Location: 37 19′ 38″ N, 19 38′ 19″E
Maximum Depth (at bows): 38 m
Average Visibility: 35-30 m (it can get murky, especially by the propeller