Location: Red Sea, near Egypt’s Ras Mohammad National Park
Today, SS Thistlegorm is known as one of the world’s most spectacular dive sites, but in a past life, it was an armed British Merchant Navy ship that carried out three successful voyages in the World War II era.
Joseph Thompson & Sons shipyard in Sunderland, England built Thistlegorm and promptly launched it in April 1940. According to The Thistlegorm Project—a maritime archaeology project that creates and studies 3D models of the ship for digital preservation—a triple-expansion steam engine rated to 1,850 horsepower powered the armed freighter. It boasted a 4.7-inch anti-aircraft gun and a heavy calibre machine gun on its stern.
➡️ Dive Deeper: Take a 360-Degree Tour to See a World War II Shipwreck in Stunning Detail
Thistlegorm’s first mission involved collecting steel rails and aircraft parts from the U.S. In its second voyage, she travelled to Argentina for grain. The third time around, Thistlegorm went to the West Indies for rum. Her fourth—and final—journey followed repairs in Glasgow, Scotland; she was destined for Alexandria, Egypt, carrying lorries, trucks, armored vehicles, motorcycles, guns, ammunition, rifles, and radio equipment among other items.
Unfortunately for Thistlegorm, German intelligence figured out that there was an Allied troop-carrying ship heading for Egypt in September 1941. While bombers failed to locate that ship, they instead decided to bomb the largest nearby ship: Thistlegorm. The ship caught fire, tore into two pieces, and sank.
Today, the wreck sits at a depth of about 100 feet, making it an ideal site for scuba divers.