New iBook takes readers to the depths of the ocean to explore world-famous shipwreck

25 Oct 2018 14:01:40.813

PA 213/18

A new iBook lets readers explore one of the world’s most famous diving sites in the Red Sea, the SS Thistlegorm, in stunning 3D detail giving them a truly unique and interactive experience.

The SS Thistlegorm iBook is a digital 3D guide which brings together historical images and archive documents, underwater photography, 3D photogrammetry, and 3D reconstruction to present the wreck in a truly unique and stunning way and giving readers a glimpse into what a dive at this famous site would be like.

The iBook is a collaborative project between Dr Jon Henderson from the Underwater Archaeology Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, renowned underwater photographer, Alex Mustard, underwater photogrammetric specialist, Simon Brown and digital artist, Mike Postons from Deep 3D Media.

Click here for full story

The SS Thistlegorm was a merchant navy steam ship, sunk by German bombers in 1941 as it was carrying supplies to support the allied war effort in Egypt. The vessel was carrying a range of provisions including trains, aircraft parts, trucks and motorbikes, all of which now lie 32 metres down at the bottom of the Red Sea.

The wreck is widely known in the diving community and is considered one of the best diving sites in the world, but is lesser known among the general public.  Now, 3D projects such as this are bringing submerged sites to the surface, enabling everyone to appreciate what lies on the sea bed.

With nine 3D models and 320 illustrations and images, including 120 breath-taking underwater images, each part of the ship and its cargo is covered in detail.

Descriptions include where each artefact or area of interest can be found with location maps showing exactly where the ship hides its secrets, contemporary wartime images of the cargo in action, modern day preserved examples as well as in-situ images taken inside and around the wreck.

The iBook probably has more underwater photos in it than any other – totalling around 25,000.

Although most were used to create the interactive 3D photogrammetry models of the wreck and cargo decks, there are still 120+ photos, as well as shots of surviving examples of the military vehicles and period images specially licensed from the Imperial War Museum. There is even a reconstructed 3D model of the ship, built from the original builders plans.

For the diver, this book is a guide to help you find and appreciate what is actually on the wreck. For the non-diver, the guide and its 3D content provides the next best experience to actually getting wet and seeing the Thistlegorm for yourself.

Dr Jon Henderson says; “Using the iBook format allows us to present our high definition 3D survey data in a new and exciting way. We can present moving photorealistic models in the text and link to immersive 360 degree video, meaning we can now present underwater sites, which are very much a form of hidden heritage, in a much more accessible and interactive way. The iBook allows readers to, in effect, explore the shipwreck from their armchair, identify the cargo and get a sense of what it is like to actually dive on the site”.

The ibook can be downloaded here at the itunes store.

— Ends —

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter

Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Dr Jon Henderson from the Underwater Archaeology Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, by email at

Charlotte Anscombe – Media Relations Manager (Arts and Social Sciences)

Email:  Phone:+44 (0)115 74 84 417 Location: University Park

Additional resources

No additional resources for this article

Related articles

Bringing the sunken secrets of WWII to the surface

Published Date
Friday 6th October 2017

Ancient naval battle site 'rammed' with relics of war

Published Date
Tuesday 5th November 2013

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798