t had been a long journey from the UK. As we approached the wreck-site from the open sea, I could see in the distance what I thought was a small motor vessel with its rusting bows sticking out of the water. Once we drew closer, I got to realise the scale of things more accurately.
It was the sharp end of a warship, and what I had thought initially to be superstructure turned out to be the two forward gun turrets.
I couldnt believe that this wreck had been totally overlooked by the Egyptian diving industry.
If I didn't know where it was, I couldn't tell anyone. That was the idea - but I knew that it was a long way south of Hamata. If I told you I'd been blindfolded during the journey down, it would be a lie. However, we had travelled for eight hours south from Hurghada, very tired after a five-hour flight from the UK, in a small bus driven very quickly with the curtains tightly closed.
I thought I recognised the grubby little jetty where we struggled down with our luggage into two RIBS to motor across the bay to where mv Emperor Elite awaited us in the dark. But this was just the prelude to the third phase of our journey.
Its a long way to travel, shut in your cabin, but we sped along at around 16 knots so that we were where we needed to be the following morning.
I had promised Mike Braun, General Manager of Emperor Divers, that I wouldn't give away the location of our intended dive-site, as Emperor Fleet liveaboards were the only vessels at that time given permission to dive it.
He was there to make sure I was true to my word.
The information as to exactly where it lay was not only unforthcoming, but I was given strict instructions not to photograph any part of the shoreline that lay nearby.
Ahmed Fadel, senior dive-guide with Emperor, had been diving this wreck already, but it seemed that few divers either knew of it or could be bothered to make the long trip south from Port Ghalib or Hamata to get to it.
Steve Carmichael-Timson, an ex-Navy man and present-day wreck-hunter, and the only other passenger with me on Emperor Elite, was similarly sworn to secrecy. He had travelled from Britain with a computer-driven side-scan sonar and an underwater metal-detector. Neither was needed to find this wreck.
It was over there!
At first glance he thought it looked very much like a British Zulu-class destroyer of World War Two vintage.
It took him no time at all, once back in Blighty, to research the vessel and come up with its actual identity.
It was HMS Myngs R06, a former Royal Navy sub-hunter destroyer built by Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle upon Tyne and launched in 1943.
It was commissioned in 1944, and its main armaments were its 4.5in guns and eight Mk9 21in torpedoes.
The vessel had taken part in an action to destroy an enemy convoy off the Norwegian coast in November 1944.
It was one of four similar vessels that became redundant and were sold off at the same time in 1955. HMS Zenith and HMS Myngs were sold to the Egyptians, while HMS Zealous and HMS Zodiac were sold to the Israelis.
You cant say the British Government wasnt even-handed!
HMS Myngs was renamed Al Qaher and then served in the Egyptian navy.
Its rusting bow section, still securely held in place 37 years later, reflected the fact that it had been caught at anchor by Israeli single-seater jet fighters on the morning of 16 May, 1970, in the interval between the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars. The vessel had just returned from a refit in India.
It had obviously been the scene of some savage fighting but eventually the ship had succumbed to the onslaught, sinking onto a ledge on which today her hull hangs precariously, leaving the bows clear of the surface.
The whole vessel is held where it now is by its starboard anchor.
If things looked bad at the surface, they were far worse under water. Strafing with cannon fire and exploding aerial bombs had devastated the vessel. The command-centre had been blown to smithereens.
The gun turrets looked as though they had been a hive of activity during the desperate attempt to save the vessel, but to no avail. The 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun emplacement had taken a direct hit, but not before it had strewn the nearby seabed with spent cartridge cases that must have sizzled as they hit the water. The torpedo-launchers were empty but not deployed.
The whole vessel is now encased in soft corals, and is a haven for thousands of fish, just as the wreck of the Thistlegorm had been when I first dived it 15 years ago.
Will the natural growth on this wreck suffer the same fate if it becomes popular with divers Time will tell.

As we descended through plankton-loaded water, oversized Bohar snappers dispersed in the gloom ahead of us.
A giant grouper, a true wreck-fish, hung around under the hull where it overhung the ledge. We could never get close enough to photograph it. Reticence is what allows a fish like this to live so long and achieve such huge dimensions.
Grandaddy-size sweetlips and a solitary super-male Napoleon wrasse hung around there, too. In fact the whole wreck teemed with life.
A giant pufferfish lolled lugubriously on top of an aft gun-turret, unperturbed or just too lazy to move when it had
a big camera thrust up to its face. It was still in the same place several hours later.
The props, now at a depth of around 21m, could give anyone a serious case of propeller envy. They were enormous, and obviously designed to hurtle the vessel along at a huge rate of knots.
Today, they are covered in soft
corals and sponges that lit up in vibrant shades of scarlet and pink in the light of the camera.
The seabed alongside the wreck was a turmoil of displaced equipment and spent shell cases.
Jacks hunted among the chaos of what was a stricken warship, while the surface around the forward area was a solid shining mass of silversides so dense you couldnt see the surface past them.
We scraped the mung off a few plates to reveal the original English inscriptions. A 4.5in shell lay ready to fire in the breech of the gun at the aft, destined never to fulfil its intended role before it found its watery resting place.
We were able to examine closely the remains of the forward-facing sonar installation revealed in the lifted part of the hull forward. Its dome had been blown off with the force of some explosion and lay on the seabed beneath it, now home to some grateful juvenile bannerfish. Cat Parfitt, a dive guide with Emperor, was my buddy. She seemed quite taken with the little cuties.
Not cute at all, a toothy giant barracuda the size of a small shark hung menacingly, waiting for us in the shadow under Elite, which initially had been tied off to the wreck. The barracuda followed us around on our next dive, like some ageing caretaker making sure we didnt steal anything.
Elite soon had to be moved away from the wreck. An Egyptian naval officer arrived with a boarding party in a small official boat from the secret naval base we could clearly see on the distant shore.
There were some tense moments, but after some discussion he compromised, and we conceded to his authority by moving our vessel to a position that allowed us to see the base more clearly!
Evidently we had permission to dive the wreck from the Coastguard and the Security Services, but not from the Navy to park Elite nearby. This meant that further dives could be had only after a long ride in the RIBs.
Thankfully the sea was flat calm, and it was not too arduous in the midsummer sun. After two hours of dive time on the wreck we had seen enough and, although we had not penetrated the engine-room, it was time to move on.
At the time of writing, Im told that only a handful of people know the location of what may become a big diving attraction in the future.

John Bantin travelled courtesy of Sportif (www.sportif-uk.com) and at the invitation of Emperor Divers (www.emperordivers.com). An eight-day trip departing from London that encompasses dives at this wreck costs around 1000 including flights, transfers, accommodation and meals.


This
This area is believed to be the remains of a gun control room.
Giant
Giant pufferfish on the gun turret.
The
The business end of a 4.5in gun.
A
A 4.5in shell, still in the breech.
Detail
Detail of the anti-aircraft Bofors gun.
An
An empty 4.5in shell rack.
Forward-
Forward- facing sonar revealed with the blister blown off.
Soft
Soft corals and sponges cover the propellers.
Contemporary
Contemporary account of the departure from Britain of the renamed Myngs in the Times. There was controversy in 1955 about the selling of arms to Egypt, and Myngs was sold before a clamp-down on such sales was imposed.
HMS
HMS Myngs in her heyday.