Monday, 5 November 2012

Dives 5 and 6 – Big Brother Numidia Wreck

numidia sailing

The Numidia was a British cargo ship built in Glasgow in 1901. She was 145m long and 6,399 tonnes, and was powered by a triple-

BBN Numidia at sea

expansion steam engine, which gave her a top speed of ten knots.

On 6 July 1901 she set out from Liverpool bound for India carrying a cargo of 7,000 tonnes, which included railway rolling stock and several steam engines. Two weeks later the Numidia was approaching the Brother Islands when, despite a change of course, she ran onto the shallow reef north of the lighthouse on Big Brother. Within a few hours the captain ordered the ship to be abandoned. For the next two months most of the cargo was removed until gravity and the intake of water dragged the ship down the sloping reef. The bow section broke off and remained on the reef until it disappeared due to storms and waves.


It lies on a steep slope at the very north of the Big Brother plateau, starting at 10m and going down to 80m.


From a divers perspective, there is a lot to see down to 40m and penetration is quite easy. However the wreck goes down to 80m and therefore its lower parts are well beyond the limits for most divers.

Whilst there are sometime strong currents and their effects depend upon where the current splits, it is possible to shelter from the current using the sides of the ship or by going inside. We were told that the most common split point is between the two wrecks.

We dived on the Numidia twice, at the end of once day (last group on the wreck) and at the start of the next day (first group of the wreck).

For both dives it was a rib entry just above the wreck, again with a very negative entry but after exploration, the plan was to go around the eastern side of the island on the current for a rib pick-up well away from the reef wall (this meant fining out into the blue once we had raised our SMBs).

When we entered the water:

BBN wreck from high above

the wreck was some distance below

BBN looking upwards towards bow

and when we reached it, it was well laid out and the water was clear (above is the view upwards towards the non existent bow)

BBN Deck at 40m

the top of the deck cabin structure (look at the plans above to locate it)

BBN Deck to the side of the deck cabin structure

BBN Base of mastthe base of the mast shows a lot of coral growth.

The Numidia really is most impressive with lots of coral growth, numerous varieties of fish life in and around it and with a number of easy swim throughs. If the light is in the correct position, it is very colourful and easy to follow. Its disadvantage is its angle on the reef side and its depth.

I lost my camera during this dive despite the purchase of a new camera fastening cable with which I had clipped the camera to my BCD. Everyone on board was most sympathetic about my loss and promised me copies of their pictures.


It was found sitting on the wreck the following morning by one of our number when we repeated the dive plan and it was returned to its grateful and disbelieving owner. It was completely undamaged and still in good working order with sufficient battery charge left to enable the finder to take a rather good picture of a moray eel. We all felt that its recovery was more than remarkable – I also won £25 on the premium bonds that day and Obamha won the Presidential Election again!

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