The SS Thistlegorm sank 76 years ago in the Red Sea. Today, it’s one of the world’s most popular dive sites.
Because of the historical significance of this British Merchant Navy ship and the number of divers who explore the wreck every day, The Thistlegorm Project was born. Using 360-degree video and digital photogrammetry, researchers were able to create a virtual tour of the 419-foot ship with 3D imagery and full video.
The idea was to establish an accurate survey of the wreck so researchers can track its condition and better protect it moving forward.
“As it’s a really popular dive site. There is a problem with the amount of divers on the site at the moment, because it’s not policed or managed,” Dr. Jon Henderson of the University of Nottingham said in a release. “Aside from looting, the main issue we have is a lot of the dive boats that go out there are actually mooring on to the wreck itself because there is nowhere else to go. Dive boats weighing 50 and 60 tonnes are tying ropes directly onto the vessel. This isn’t such a problem for the parts of the vessel which are quite strong, but equally we have seen some boats tying on to more fragile areas including the guns, the bridge and the railings – which can cause damage. So we need to protect these sites."
“Under the UNESCO convention (which Egypt has just signed), there’s protection for wrecks that are 100 years or older. At the moment, that doesn’t cover WWI and WWll wrecks, but if we want this resource to survive and to be sustainable as a touristic and a scientific resource to study, then we need to actually protect it,” says Henderson.
The team used Kolor GoPro Abyss camera rigs — which include six individual cameras shooting in 4K — to develop the footage. They ended up with 1.5 terabytes of raw video footage and more than 24,000 high-resolution photos.
This project is a part of Presence in the Past, an initiative directed by Henderson at the University of Nottingham, in partnership with Al Shams University and Alexandria University.
To see more images and video of the Thistlegorm from this project, visit their website.