Dive Site: El Minya, Red Sea, Egypt

A liveaboard favorite, this wreck sits almost directly in the harbor of Hurghada, making it easy to reach for day boats and liveaboards alike, and offers great diving and an interesting bit of history.

The El Minya (numerous spelling variations can be found online and in guidebooks) was a Russian-built Soviet T-43 minesweeper, which entered into service in the Egyptian navy in 1956, one of a total of four such vessels imported into Egypt, and named for various Egyptian cities.

The ship was lost during the so-called War of Attrition, which comprised a series of attacks on both sides that linked the Six Days War with the Yom Kippur War, some of the numerous conflicts between Egypt and Israel in the latter half of the twentieth century. On February 6th, 1970, a number of Israeli aircraft approached Hurghada, targeting the city’s naval station. The El Minya was at anchor in the harbor at the time, and was hit by one of the bombs, sinking where it sat.

exploring the wreck
Hurghada bay

Today it sits in a maximum of 105 feet (32 meters), though the majority of the wreck is somewhat shallower, up to around 62 feet (19 meters). While the area’s bottom conditions can sometimes cause a precipitous drop in visibility and currents can occur, the sheltered nature of the area means that conditions are usually calm and currents are very mild, even in windy periods. The visibility, usually around 30 to 60 feet (10 to 20 meters), is considerably less than normal Red Sea conditions.

A number of marine animals have made their home on the El Minya, including lionfish and moray eels, so apart from the wreck itself, there’s plenty to see. There’s some limited penetration available, but the areas are cramped and silty, so only experienced wreck divers should attempt penetration. The wreck rests on its port side, and the hole where the Israeli bomb struck is still clearly visible on its exposed starboard side. A little way off the wreck you’ll find both the mast and its anti-aircraft gun, both of which were lost as it sank in an upside-down position.

Divers should note that the wreck sits in an active harbor area, and should take precautions when surfacing. Ideally, surface close to your dive boat to avoid the path of a vessel leaving or heading into harbor.

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