Alma was the first ship to be built for P&O by John Laird, Sons & Co., Birkenhead. Iron construction with a single screw powered by an oscillating geared steam engine. The Alma was originally named Pera when launched in 1854, but this was changed in recognition of the Anglo-French victory in the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War when the ship was completed.
The Alma sailed from Aden on 11 June 1859 with the mail, valuable cargo and a compliment of nearly 200 passengers. The ship proceeded northwards through the Red Sea and the weather remained calm and favourable. At 3am on a beautiful moonlit night the Alma inexplicably struck a reef on the eastern fringe of the Hanish Islands.
|Dimensions||87.8 x 11.4 m (288.2 x 37.3 ft)|
The steamer was very much broken down, but the stem [sic] was beautifully intact, with a huge bronze propeller. Under the overhang of the stern we found a big nurse shark lying on the bottom.