The steamboat was launched on 8. December 1862 in Poplar (England) for the famous British shipping company P&O Company. The name comes from a region in India. The 98 m long and the 13 m wide steamboat showed in its line, the classical beauty of the sailing boats of its time. Despite its steam engine the “Carnatic” still carried two masts for auxiliary sails. The shipping company used the ship in the regular transport service between Great Britain and India.
The Carnatic on the journey from Liverpool to Bombay with 27 crew members, 203 passengers as well as a cargo of cotton, copper plates and 40,000 pounds Sterling in gold, in the night of 13. September 1869 on the reef Shab Abu Nuhas.
The ship at first, remained lying on the reef, however it broke apart on 15 September despite different rescue attempts and sank.
The exaggerated confidence in the stabilityof the ship affected itself fatally. Since the Carnatic had not been vacated, and both passengers and members of the crew remained on board, the ship dragged 27 people with it into the deep.
The survivors saved themselves firstly onto Shadwan island and were later saved from the Sumatra.
In October 1869a helmet diver saved the largest part of the gold freight as well as 700 copper plates. Also several dead bodies were discovered – a victim was still stuck in a porthole, through which he had tried to escape in vain.
There is still 8,000 pounds in Sterling which can still be found in the wreck. So far, nobody has found it – perhaps they have been secretly retrieved or has disappeared under the coral.
The wreck was again discovered in 1984, and since then is a popular goal for the dive boats from Hurghada. Since then it has been thoroughly plundered by souvenir hunters.
The “Carnatic” lies on it’s side at the base of the reef, in a depth of 20 to 27 m. In the centre the ship is badly destroyed, bow and stern are in good condition. The wooden deck has rotted away, so that one can safely penetrate the inside. The hull is densely covered with stone and leather coral.
- The stern is particularly beautiful with the propeller with its long narrow blades, which was typical for early steam ships, and a rear gallery of large windows, that reminds one of an 18. century sailing boat.
- Remarkable also, is the far protruding bow, which is thickly encrusted with stone corals. One can hardly tear oneself away from searching about between the thickly covered deck carriers and the deeper, darker angles of the ship itself, through which the blue light of the sea trickles through the hatches and portholes.
- In the more remote corners it is still possible to find even a few bottles, which have not yet been plundered by souvenir hunters.
- The Carnatic is as an early steam ship not only a technical monument, but despite all its damages, and with its clear beauty, it is one of the most impressive wrecks, not only in the Red Sea, but generally.