Discovery by Cousteau
In the early fifties Jacques-Yves Cousteau discovered her by using information from local fishermen. He raised several items from the wreck, including a motorcycle, the Captain’s safe, and the ship’s bell.
The February 1956 edition of National Geographic clearly shows the ship’s bell in place and Cousteau's divers in the ship’s Lantern Room. Cousteau documented diving on the wreck in part of his book The Living Sea.
Rediscovery and recreational dive site
A view of the winch sitting on the deck
Following Cousteau’s visit the site was forgotten about except by local fishermen. In the early 1990s Sharm el-Sheikh began to develop as a diving resort. Recreational diving on the Thistlegorm restarted following the visit of the dive boat Poolster, using information from another Israeli fishing boat captain.
The massive explosion that sank her had blown much of her midships superstructure away and makes the wreck very accessible to divers. The depth of around 30 m (100 feet) at its deepest is ideal for diving without the need for specialist equipment and training.
The wreck attracts many divers for the amount of the cargo that can be seen and explored. Boots and motorcycles are visible in Hold No. 1. Trucks, motorcycles, Wellington boots, rifles, Westland Lysander wings, about twenty Bristol Mercury radial engine exhaust rings and a handful of cylinders and Bristol Blenheim bomber tail planes are visible in Hold No. 2. Universal Carrier armoured vehicles, RAF trolley accumulators, and two PUNDIT lights can also be found. Off to the port side of the wreck level with the blast area can be found one of the steam locomotives which had been stored as deck cargo and the other locomotive is off the starboard side level with Hold No. 2.
The wreck is rapidly disintegrating due to natural rusting. The dive boats that rely on the wreck for their livelihood are also tearing the wreck apart by mooring the boats to weak parts of the wreck leading to parts of the wreck collapsing. For this reason in December 2007 the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) a Non Governmental Organisation installed thirty two permanent mooring buoys and drilled holes in the wreck to allow trapped air to escape. During this work the vessel was closed off to recreational diving. However, as of 2009 none of these moorings remains as the blocks themselves were too light (resulting in ships dragging them), and the lines connecting the moorings to the wreck were too long (meaning with the strong currents in the area people would find it impossible to transfer from the mooring to the actual wreck). As a result all boats now moor off directly to the wreck again.
Common interresting animals around the wreck: Tuna, Barracuda, Batfish, Morey eel, Lionfish, Stonefish, Crocodilefish, Scorpionfish and Sea turtle.
The Times named the Thistlegorm as one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world