It is often said that ships, just like people, have their destinies. The story of the sunken ship Satil (also known as Ahi Sufa) is more than interesting…
It all started in 1969, when the Israeli navy bought 13 new gunboats from the French. The ships were made and stationed in Cherbourg shipyard, however, the diplomatic connections between Israel and France deteriorated, and General De Gaulle put an embargo on the delivery of military equipment.
The Israeli secret service decided to go with a risky operation. Their operatives infiltrated the shipyard workers and managed to take the control of the six ships during Christmas Eve 1969, one of them being Satil. That same night, they sailed across the Mediterranean, and later arrived successfully in Israel.
The rest of this ship’s history was not as dramatic... It served all of its working life in the navy. When the time for its retirement finally came, it was deliberately sunk to be a training ground for divers, as well as a tourist attraction. In the spring of 1994, Satil was submerged in front of the Hosh
Fitting into the underwater environment
Satil lies parallel to the shore, about 70 meters away from it. Entering the water is very easy, and a big buoy marks the ship’s location from the surface so that you can start the dive from there – into the blue.
Its maximum depth is around 25 meters, and the average depth of the deck varies from 18 - 21 meters. Visibility is always good, so when approaching the shipwreck, you can immediately see the command bridge with the tower behind it. A long bow gives Satil an elegant look, especially because it sits in a horizontal position, as if still sailing.
It fits perfectly into the underwater environment and has become home to many sea creatures over the years. Around the wreck you may see Arabian Angel Fish, Emperor Angel Fish, moray eels, octopus and more…. Just next to the wreck there are a lot of Pipefish, Red Sea Fusiliers, Groupers and a lot of Lion Fish near the tower. In May, flocks of Glass Fish gather and form phenomenal spheres.
Entering the wreck is possible through the place where there was once a deck cannon, leading to the bow part under the deck. You can also enter the command bridge and machine department. Under the deck you may see a lot of fish.
The Satil shipwreck is a dive site which should not be missed if diving in Eilat. It is very attractive for underwater photographers and videographers, due to its overall look and the wealth of sea life it hosts. It is also a great training location for your next dive course and further training.
Written by Janez Kranjc
Support diving center - Sigala Diving School