The Dunraven was an 80-metre-long cargo ship built at Mitchell and Co. Iron Ship Builders of New Castle and launched in 1873 to serve on the Liverpool-Bombay route. Similar to the other vessels of its era, the Dunraven sported an iron-framed, wooden-planked construction and was powered by square rigs supported by a two-cylinder steam engine. She sunk in 1873 on a return trip from Bombay, hitting the shallow reef of Beacon Rock on the northwestern border of what is today Ras Mohammed National Park. Now she rests between 15 and 30 metres of water, completely encrusted with corals of all kinds and teeming with reef species, making for a fantastic wreck dive when the sea conditions are optimal.
The Dunraven, under Captain Edward Richards’ command, ran aground between 0330 and 0400 after hitting a shallow reef in Beacon Rock. By 0700 hours, the flooding was out of control and had reached the engine room, resulting in the loss of power to the bilge pumps. By noon, half of the ship was underwater and the Captain ordered to abandon it. At 1700 hours, the ship finally sank, landing in 30 metres of water on the sandy bottom next to the reef’s bank.
The Dunraven rests upside down, leaning slightly on its port side with its bow pointing northeast. The bow is also the ship’s shallowest point, and the stern the deepest. Due to the sandy nature of the bottom, the visibility in the area should be relatively low–as low as 10 metres–so it is advisable to dive on the Dunraven on a calm day, when the dominant northern winds are weak or absent. There could be a slight southward undercurrent; however, the structure of the wreck itself provides sufficient shelter from it.
The wreck of the Dunraven offers ample opportunities for exploration. If you have a flashlight and the required training, you can use one of the entry points to access the ship’s guts and admire the two large boilers that powered the steam cylinders along with the labyrinth of pipes and valves connected to them. The rudder and propeller are spectacular and well worth a visit–keep in mind that this is the deeper section of the wreck, so plan the dive accordingly. The hideouts and dark recesses of the wreck are populated by glassfish, soldierfish, scorpionfish, and several other species that thrive in darker environments.
While being unassuming compared to the other world-famous wrecks of the area–the Thistlegorm, for example–the Dunraven is still quite stunning. It offers a fantastic blend of historical and naturalistic value, ample room for exploration, and a great setting to test your buoyancy skills in enclosed environments while being generally uncrowded and easily accessed.
This text is for information purposes only. It has been written by members of the website and can be inaccurate. Always contact local professional divers before diving.