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Wreck treks: Tien Hsing

Article
November 27. 2012.

One of the small but easy and nice wrecks of the Egyptian Red Sea.

This small wreck isn't famous at all, nobody travels to the Egyptian Red Sea to do some dives particularly at the Tien Hsing. Most of the divers don't even know its name, they mention Tienstin or simply call it "the wreck of the Abu Galawa". Me too and I like this. I didn't have any idea about the ship's origin until I had a chat with a local dive guide.

When somebody plans the route of liveaboard trip to the Southern Egyptian Red Sea, they mention the highlights: the Elphinstone with its sharks or the exciting caves of Claudia but Abu Galawa is only one of the typical dive spots in the area.

First of all the history lesson: the Tien Hsing was built in China in 1935 and hit the Abu Galawa reef in 1943. The 35 meters long tugboat's position is special: it starts from the surface and the stern reaches the bottom at 17 meters. The dive site is popular because the divers can't find too much shallow wrecks in the Marsa Alam area. Although the ship sank during the WWII, it isn't a historical wreck.

Basically the Tien Hsing is a simple small boat which would look a typical, isn't too exciting watercraft if it would be mooring in a harbor. Under water it became an underwater oasis with splendid life. There are small rooms with glassfish, holes with morays, groupers, pipefish. The divers need to be careful in specific places as in every wreck but it's a nice dive spot even if you never penetrate.

There isn't strong currents and it's quite protected, sometimes the liveaboard boats spend the night here and the divers can observe how the wreck's fauna change in the dark. In the ray of light the coral covered wreck becomes a mysterious underwater object inhabited by hunting lionfish or sleeping parrotfish.

Sometimes I use to say I like wreck diving, I have favorite wrecks around the world. But the Tien Hsing is not a real wreck dive for me. It's a place under water where I like to watch the Red Sea's wonders. As I swim around this big metal monument I understand better the idea behind the artificial reefs. The sea doesn't sort out ugly, old, important wrecks: all of them become the part of the big picture. This wreck helps me to realize not the wrecks or the man made contributions make this world so exciting and attracting but the sea itself.

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