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The cargo holds of the SS Thistlegorm.

Graph of my dive profile for SS Thistlegorm, Red Sea

This dive began with a descent on the line and entry into the cargo loading area down into the bowels of the ship.

Having just tried out a wreck penetration the dive before (a brief trip through the captain’s quarters) this was really my first proper interior dive. Swimming through the cargo holds, with steel on all sides, in an area that would be huge were it not for all the flatbed trucks laden with motor bikes, it was quite different, and very exciting.

Since the cargo left us with a vertical area of 1 - 1.5 metres to manoeuvre in, this is not a dive for those with any sort of claustrophobia problem (however mild) or poor buoyancy control.

This was so different it was fabulous. There is something both splendid and very saddening about swimming through a sunken ship; man’s great engineering efforts broken and lost to all but marine life and divers.

Considering some of her crew were lost in its sinking it made me very angry that idiots have pillaged the holds for souvenirs (handlebars and steering wheels). Swimming through this wreck reminds you (or should) of the human cost of war, and makes a fitting memorial to the war dead. To me stripping it for dive trophies is nothing short of desecration.

Even if you do not give a stuff for that point of view you must agree that (even on a purely selfish level) stealing bits of the cargo spoils it for other divers.