The Zietieh was built at Maryport (England) at the yard of William Walker Shipbuilders in 1911. She was a steel screw steamship, machinery aft, fitted for liquid fuel-oil burning, with a through the hold and suspended bridge. She was 291 tons, 121ft long, with a 22ft beam. She was powered by a 2 cylinder steam engine, fed by a single scotch boiler supplied by J. RITCHIE & Co. Her owners were the EGYPTIAN OIL TRUST, later the ANGLO EGYPTIAN OILFIELDS Ltd.
Constructed: 1911 (Maryport, England)
Length of ship: 37m (121ft)
Wreck location: Ashrafi Islands, Egypt.
Depth range of wreck: 4m to 12m
Right image: This makers plate was located in the ships engine room by Andy Aston, who cleaned & photographed it and then returned it deep inside the wreck. Without this vital piece of evidence the identity of the wreck may never have come to light.
The Zietieh was carrying out her duties as a general supply vessel and was at anchor close to Ras Zeit on 29th January 1915 when she caught fire during an oil burner change over. Her boiler and deck cargo shifted and she began to take on water, finally capsizing with a list to port.
The Wreck Today
The Zietieh now lies on her port side, on a flat sandy sea bed in only 12 metres of water. The starboard side is in only 4 metres.
The raised fo’c’sle is accessible with only iron framework remaining, with lamps and other artefacts lying in the chain locker. The starboard anchor chain runs out along the sand to the anchor. A weather deck runs aft from the engine room to the steering quadrant and she has high running boards – almost tug like. All the wooden decking has gone, revealing iron framework, heavily encrusted with the sponge and sea fir. Companionways run alongside the bridge and engine room; starboard accessible, a port in the sand.
She has a single hold forward served by a deck winch just behind the force, although there are no signs of a mast. In the hold is a cargo of prefabricated narrow gauge railway track in straight lengths of 6mtrs, some of the cargo lies 20mtrs away from the wreck. A small compact bridge straddles the aft section of the hold and has a single door forward. Above this is an open navigation bridge and wheelhouse. The helm is in place but oddly facing the stern.
The engine room is completely intact with all her fittings, valves, piping and gauges still in place. Although heavily encrusted, it is possible to imagine the everyday working life of her engineers.
The tall, straight funnel is broken off and lying on the sea bed and now home to a family of snapper. One blade of the prop is missing, the rudder still in place but the keel is bent below the rudder assembly. Otherwise, there is no sign of any damage to the wreck.
Hard corals encrust the upper port side of the hull, which is made of overlapping plates which are beginning to rot away, allowing an eerie light to filter through into her single hold. The wreck is a haven for marine life; large groupers, shoals of red sea snapper, free-swimming snowflake morays and many large pyjama nudibranchs grazing on the red sponge. Batfish and map of Africa Angelfish too are found patrolling the wreck
The ship lies on its port side on a sandy bottom with a maximum depth of 12 meters. The starboard side of the ship is just 4-meters below the surface. At the bow of the ship is a raised focus, complete with the ship’s anchor chain still run out. Located on the focus is the anchor winch, with a smaller winch located aft of this which would have been used for the loading and offloading of cargo. The cargo hold still contains some of the ship’s last cargo consisting of train track rail in 6-meter lengths. Some of the ship’s cargo can also be located on the seabed around 20-meters away. Aft of the forward hold is the ship’s superstructure and the remains of the wheelhouse, complete with an aft-facing helm station. All of the wooden decks and walls have long since deteriorated, leaving behind a skeleton of an iron framework which makes penetration into the wreck extremely easy. Aft of the superstructure is another small hold and then the ship’s engine room, which still contains the propulsion machinery, including valves, gauges, piping and ladders. Further aft on the fantail the steering quadrant protrudes from the weather deck and is covered, like the rest of the wreck, in corals. The rudder of the ship is still in place, as is the ship’s single screw. And finally, the ship’s funnel has broken off of the ship and in lying on the seabed off to one side. This looks to be a fun and easy little wreck dive for divers of any level!