Red Sea Wrecks: Giannis D

This mighty freight transporter is one of the Red Sea’s most impressive wrecks

Wrecks are popular with divers for different reasons; some have a historical appeal; some are magnets for marine life; some are simply enormous. Large wrecks, especially newer ones, allow for penetration, which appeals to many advanced wreck divers. The Giannis D is one of those wrecks.

History

The Giannis D started its career as the Shoyo Maru, built in Japan in 1969, and sailed under that name until 1975 when it was sold and renamed as the Markos. In 1980, the ship was sold to a Greek shipping company and renamed the Giannis D. Its final, fateful journey began in Croatia in 1983. En route to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a load of timber, the Giannis D sailed through the Suez Canal and along the Sinai Peninsula, heading for the Red Sea. With engines set to full speed, it suddenly struck Sha’ab Abu Nuhas, a treacherous reef, which just barely reaches the surface. The reef is well known and marked on most nautical maps, but can still be difficult to spot, especially in strong sunlight. Despite knowing the reef’s location, the Giannis D wandered slightly off course and struck the northwestern part of the reef.

The wreck

The ship now sits at the top portion of the reef, with only 20 feet of water above its bridge and its bow at 98 feet. The ship has been torn into three sections, and lies parallel to the reef at a 45-degree tilt. A large “D” is emblazoned on its funnel, and is still clearly identifiable.

The bridge section allows for penetration into the crew quarters, engine room, mess hall and bridge. Due to the tilt, navigation inside the wreck can be quite disorienting, as you’ll often find yourself swimming semi-sideways, or swimming up a flight of stairs that is really pointing downwards. Because of this, only experienced wreck divers, or those diving with a qualified guide, should attempt penetration. There are, however, numerous exit points, making this a safe wreck to explore, again, provided you have the required training and experience.

Diving the Giannis D

Dives are typically done via zodiacs, which venture out from liveaboards or, less frequently, from day boats. The boats will moor up temporarily to a surface buoy as divers enter the water. Divers follow the mooring line to the wreck, which is clearly visible from the surface. Most head for the aft section to view the propeller, and some chose to go inside from the aft entrance. Divers can then make their way around the wreck and to the amidships and forward sections before finishing the dive at the bridge, and, if the seas above aren’t too rough, along the gentle slope of the reef, where any number of marine species are common, including moray eels, bannerfish and jackfish.