1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tobruk

TOBRUK (anc. Antipyrgos), a settlement with small Turkish garrison on a fine natural harbour situated on the N. coast of Africa at the intersection of 32° N. Lat., with 24° E. Long. The harbour, which is small but deep, and sheltered by high ground, opens to the east. It is about 2½ m. long by ¾ m. wide; the depth in the centre is over 40 ft. and soundings of over 30 ft. extend to within a very short distance of the shores. It is the only safe port easily accessible to large vessels for over 1000 m., between Sfax in Tunisia and Alexandria, for, although there is safe and deep anchorage in the recess of the Gulf of Bomba, the entrance is rocky and difficult. Tobruk has long been the outlet for the trade of the oases which extend from ]arabub to Siwah, and are a stronghold of the Senussi order (see Cyrenaica); and it is also the headquarters of the Libyan sponge fishery, prosecuted by Greeks. In the spring it is visited by a great number of boats, to protect which a small Hellenic warship has sometimes been dispatched. But it is as a future man-of-war harbour that Tobruk is likely to be important. It has been visited both by British and Italian squadrons and has become an object of considerable solicitude to the government of Italy. By running into Tobruk and the neighbouring Gulf of Bomba the French fleet eluded British vigilance on its way to Egypt in 1798.  (D. G. H.)