This week we continue our Looking Back to the sinking of a ship during the First World War.

The wreck of the SS Baygitano is currently submerged 22 metres underwater and is roughly one-and-a-half miles south of the Cobb at Lyme Regis.

Last week we learned how the ship became a casualty of war after being torpedoed on March, 18 1918, when it was returning from Le Havre to Cardiff.

This week we will be looking at how the wreck of the ship is used today, with information provided by Nigel Braybrooke of the Severnside Sub-Aqua Club, Harry May, and Amanda Bowens of the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

As part of the centenary of the First World War, different projects have been set up to commemorate those involved in the war effort.

One of which is a four-year project by the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

The project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, coincides with the centenary to raise the profile of the fallen ships in and around our seas, rivers and estuaries.

South coast wreck sites, which include merchant and naval ships, passenger, troop and hospital ships, ports, wharfs, buildings and foreshore hulks, have often been unrecognised.

The project presents a final opportunity to record what remains on the seabed, with more than 1,100 of them in the project zone (which only stretches half way across the Channel).

Wrecks such as the SS Baygitano have been researched and recorded by the trust, to provide educational resources and exhibits to engage the public.

The final result of this project will be an accessible database which will provide all the information regarding the shipwrecks.

In 2012, the wreck was formally adopted by the Severnside Sub-Aqua Club as part of the Nautical Archaeology Society’s ‘adopt-a-wreck’ scheme, which was aimed at encouraging understanding of Britain’s maritime heritage.

Club members have worked to find out more about the wreck and her crew to promote respectful visits to the wreck sites by divers as part of the society’s ‘Lost Beneath the Waves 1914-1918’ initiative.

The project was awarded the society’s ‘Adopt a Wreck Award’ in 2015.

The judges said: “The SS Baygitano is a great UK wreck dive within the limits of BSAC Ocean Divers and trainees under supervision and in a sheltered location.

“However the wreck is often overlooked as a potential dive site, or, otherwise, only ever dived as a back-up site in case of poor weather or unsuitable tides.

“The club wanted to change that by finding out a bit more about her fascinating history and then publishing their findings as widely as possible using TV, radio, and online including social media.

“Their project demonstrates how, by adopting a wreck, it can be used to involve all interested parties, both divers and non-divers, in ‘Diving with a Purpose’.

“However the club does not want people to forget that the Baygitano is also the final resting place of two of the 12,000 men of the Mercantile Fleet who lost their lives providing vital supplies to enable the Allies’ final victory in the Great War.”

Members attempted to dive to the wreck as part of the hundredth anniversary of the ship sinking, but were foiled in their attempts to do so.

Nigel Braybrooke, Adopt-A-Wreck project coordinator for Severnside Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC Branch no. 364), said: “We were disappointed not to be able to dive the wreck site on the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

“However, the rain and snow hasn’t dampened our club members’ enthusiasm for diving on the wreck or learning more about its history and the vital role played by the merchant navy in the Great War.

“This will hopefully be the first of several planned trips to dive the wreck during its centenary year and to commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of all those who lost their lives during that terrible conflict.”

Members dived to the wreck on Saturday, April 14, where they were able to lay a wreath inside of one of the ship’s boilers, as well as a poem commemorating the sacrifice of merchant navy seamen in the First and Second World Wars.

They were joined by members from North Dorset Sub Aqua Club.

Telling the Bridport News more about the project, club chair and dive manager of the club, Leon Smith, said: “The sinking of the SS Baygitano one hundred years ago is a part of Lyme Regis’ history but so easily forgotten as the wreck now lies underwater.

“The wreck is not recognised as a war grave because the only two casualties from the ship wreck, the first mate Frederick Rudolph Richards and fourth engineer Harold John Chinn, were not serving members of the armed services.

“Club members felt it was appropriate to lay a wreath in their memory and in commemoration of the conflicts in which so many people have lost their lives.”

The club hope to encourage more diving on the wreck during the year.

Divers have left a long blue line with floats tied in to the wreck attached securely to an eye-ring on one of the main boilers to make it easier to dive to the wreck.

For those who fish off the coast of Lyme, the shipwreck provides an abundance of sealife.

Harry May, who organises fishing trips in Lyme Regis, encounters the wreck on a near daily basis.

Harry said: “The Baygitano plays quite a large part in my life as we fish over it on our three hour deep sea fishing trips most mornings.

“The wreck lies in 20 metres of water, one and one third miles off Lyme Regis."

“When she was torpedoed, her masts were sticking out of the water and had to be removed as they were a shipping hazard.

“I feel great sympathy for the crew being the target of a torpedo attack and all the terror that brings with it, but I’m certainly glad we have a great place to fish and dive so close to Lyme Regis.”

To find out more information about the Maritime Archaeology Trust’s project, visit

For more information on the club’s project, email