HMS Enterprise discovers underwater 'canyon'

Image of underwater canyon captured by HMS Enterprise
Image caption HMS Enterprise captured the images using an echo sounder fitted to the ship's hull

A Royal Navy survey ship has captured images of an underwater canyon in the Red Sea.

Devonport-based HMS Enterprise is on a nine-month deployment in the Middle East, updating maritime charts.

The 250m-deep (820ft) canyon was discovered after the ship left the Egyptian port of Safaga.

The 3D images were created using a multi-beam echo sounder which is fitted to Enterprise's hull for measuring the sea bed.

Cdr Derek Rae, commanding officer of HMS Enterprise, said: "These features could be the result of ancient rivers scouring through the rock strata before the Red Sea flooded millennia ago.

Image caption HMS Enterprise will return to Devonport in the summer

"Some may be far younger and still in the process of being created by underwater currents driven by the winds and tidal streams as they flow through this area of the Red Sea, carving their way through the soft sediment and being diverted by harder bed rock.

"Or there is always the possibility that they are a combination of the two.

"It is, however, almost certain to say that this is the closest that humans will ever get to gaze upon these impressive sights hundreds of metres beneath the surface."

HMS Enterprise left Plymouth in September and will remain in the Middle East until the summer to continue its task of updating some of the 3,300-plus Admiralty Charts which are used not only by the Royal Navy, but seafarers around the world.

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