C-130 Hercules dive site-Aqaba

Sunlight pierces through the crystal-clear waters as divers explore the haunting beauty of the C-130 Hercules dive site in Aqaba – Aqaba Diving Plane, a testament to both nature’s resilience and man’s ingenuity.

  • Full Name: C-130 Hercules wreck - Aqaba
  • Dive Site: Wreck
  • Visibility : 10-25 meters
  • Depth: Surface to 20 m
  • Snorkeling: Available
  • Access: From shore/ From boat
  • Level: Beginner and higher
  • Variant Names: Hercules Wreck

Hercules C130 military aircraft has scuttled off Aqaba, Jordan to create a new artificial reef for divers in the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority “ASEZA”, in cooperation with the Royal Jordanian Navy and the Aqaba Port Corporation, sank the plane on November 16, 2017. It is approximately 300 meters off the coast, with press and politicians and a brass band in attendance, a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft was sunk as an artificial wreck for scuba diving off the shores of Aqaba, Jordan.

The new dive site forms part of a project spearheaded by King Abdullah II himself, a drive to promote tourism to a country which has escaped relatively unscathed in the aftermath of an overall decline in visitors to the Red Sea, of which Egypt constitutes the vast majority.

Before the sinking, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority removed all fuel, oil, paint and hazardous materials from the aircraft. In order to comply with environmental best practice. The aircraft towed from the Royal Jordanian Air Force’s headquarters in Amman to Aqaba. For repurposed for its new life as an artificial reef.

The Hercules has been sunk in a very easily accessible location, not far from the wreck of the Cedar Pride, and only a few meters from the M42 ‘Duster’ anti-aircraft vehicle, more commonly known as ‘the Tank’

With an average maximum depth of around 16m and a flat bottom, the Hercules is upright and almost level, with a length of 30m and a wingspan of around 40m. The site is prone to only the lightest of currents, and descent onto the wreck is aided by the excellent Red Sea visibility, meaning it will almost always be visible from the surface.

C-130 Hercules dive site-Aqaba

Aircraft wrecks always have a slightly eerie feel about them, even if – as is the case with the C130 Hercules – they were deliberately sunk as artificial reefs. Although nobody would argue that ships belong under the water anymore so than aircraft, ships are at least sunk within their natural habitat, whereas the nose cone of an airplane looming above you lends an especially unnatural feel for the dive.

Hovering outside the cockpit at 12 m is a particularly strange sensation – it seems so very small when you get up-close and personal, whereas back on land it would be several meters above your head. Several divers took the opportunity to straddle the nose cone which – while very strongly not recommended for preservation of the aircraft – gives some idea as to the strange warping of perspective as you start the dive peering into the cockpit windows.

That Aqaba’s C130 Hercules wreck has been made so accessible is, of course, deliberate and, as such, is not likely to attract the serious, dangerous wreck-penetrating techies, but that was never the intention. It’s a fun-for-all-the-family excursion which divers of all experience levels can enjoy, while their non-diving partners can snorkel above them. There’s plenty to see of the aircraft itself, and divers who wish to make more of the experience can visit the tank, or explore the coral and seagrass of the surrounding area which – thanks to the mild current – will no doubt aid the development of coral around the structure of the wreck itself.

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