Adopt a Wreck Award

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Every year the NAS awards the Adopt-a-Wreck Award to the person or group who has made the most significant contribution to archaeology and researched through the Adopt-a-Wreck scheme. Applications normally open in September with the award being given at the NAS Annual Conference in November.

The judging panel (consisting of the Receiver of Wreck and representatives from the UK’s major sport diving organisations) are seeking entries based on the following criteria.  It is stressed these are not ‘categories’ and all will be judged on their merit.

The Awardi.    A Milestone Report, based on investigations to date or a particular aspect of a project.

ii.   Completed Project

iii.  Annual submission – previous winners are welcome to enter in subsequent years for different aspects of a project

The aim is not only to encourage more entries, but to encourage more dissemination – a key aim of the ‘Adopt A Wreck’ initiative. 
All entries must be submitted using this form with supporting documentation where required.  In the case of press/TV material, please submit these on suitable media (CD/DVD).

At the completion of the panels’ deliberations, all copies bar one (kept on file for record purposes) will be returned.  In the case of images etc, all copyright and ethical property rights will be safeguarded.

IF YOU WIN - or are ‘Runners Up’ the Award will be presented at the NAS Annual Conference.  We would obviously be delighted if you attend in person.  The winning group will be asked to make a 20-25 minute presentation on their work during the afternoon session.  Preferably this would be delivered via ‘MS PowerPoint’

The annual 'Adopt a wreck' award is made to the person or group that has made the most significant contribution to maritime archaeology and research through the adoption process. The award is supported by PADI, BSAC, SAA and the Receiver of Wreck. Representatives from these organisations form a panel who judge the entries for the award.


Adopt a wreck Award Winners

In 2015 the judges couldn’t distinguish between two applications for the award so were please to award joint winners.

Severnside Sub-Aqua Club for their work on the wreck of the SS Baygitano -
Leon R Smith and Nigel Braybrooke from Severnside BSACThe 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. Severnside BSAC 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.
For more on the SS Baygitano project please visit their website

Portuguese Navy Research Centre for their U-35 Project - Jorge Russo and Augusto Salgado from the Portuguese Naval Research Centre
April, 24th 1917, the Imperial German submarine U-35, commanded by the "Ace of aces" Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière, sank 4 ships off Sagres and Lagos, Algarve, South Portugal. This is a Great War episode not mentioned in the history books, that brought the war to continental Portugal, away from the classic view of the Belgium trenches and African territories. Project U-35 is researching into the history of the episode, detecting the multicultural and multinational footprint, and, identifying the wrecks alleged to correspond to the ships sank by the U-35 that day.
For more on Project U-35 please visit their website


“The 2014 entries highlighted the range of possible projects – they were varied, all of high quality and extremely difficult to judge. The judging panel reviewed fabulous underwater photo catalogues, serious archaeological science, projects with compelling and unusual back stories, engaging and enterprising outreach with media, the public and relatives and great ways to keep club divers active. The entries covered both topside and underwater work and a combination of both, and involved non-divers, recreational divers to professional archaeologists. The 2014 mix of entries had it all, each was inspiring in its own way – and that’s what the scheme is about – furthering interest and getting involved”. Suzanne Playdell, PADI representative on the AAW Award judging panel

Aldershot DolphinsTwo projects were highly commended:
Aldershot Dolphins for their Cuckoo Project on air sea rescue crafts from WWII, put in place to aid stricken allied bomber pilots and crew. A fascinating, and little known story brought to life by the team at Aldershot Dolphins. An excellent example of a well-produced report, good research, lots of branch training and involvement and arising out of a recent local AAW adoption to provide a direction and focus for all club members. Well done to the club and their leader Jennifer Perrie


Weymouth Lunar SocietyWeymouth Lunar Society and their Shipwreck & Maritime Incident Directory – a very different kind of Adopt a Wreck project. This was a superb piece of topside research and a huge effort in terms of man hours by those involved.  Specifically focused on Dorset, but with the potential as a template to roll out nationally. Well done to the LUNAR Society and especially to David Carter and Ed Cumming. Link:  


In 2014 the judges couldn’t distinguish between two projects so awarded joint winners.

The London Wreck ProjectLondon Wreck Project - A serious amount of quality work, with local knowledge, passion and enthusiasm shining through. Probably one of the most difficult sites to dive but with great archaeological and historical potential. This project has had involvement from the heritage agencies, as well as professional archaeologists but was led and coordinated by amateur archaeologists and divers. This project has it all.
Well done to Steve and Carol Ellis and Steve Meddle and everyone else involved. Link:

Chester Sub Aqua ClubChester Sub Aqua Club for their “Tale of Two Trawlers” - This has been a long running project and a tremendous piece of detective work unravelling the riddle of the confused identities of two Steam trawlers off Anglesey. The project had great involvement of club members, was well presented with a clear narrative, great video, and wonderful outreach work engaging family members of those who perished. Again, the passion and enthusiasm shone through. This was a project with a compelling story and a great template for other clubs to emulate. Well done to Justin Owen, Nigel Cossons, Chris Holden and everyone else involved. Link: 


The 2013 Jorge Russo accepts award award was presented to Jorge Russo, for his teams work on the wreck of the SS Dago. The SS Dago was bombed off Portugal on the 15th March 1942 and now lies in 50m of water.

Judges comments: This is an excellent project at a difficult depth in open water . The team overcame the problems of identification by survey at such depth by research into obtainable features and dimensions. We especially like the idea of devising and using the special callipers to measure the engine cylinders. The production of a physical scale model of the wreck by the adoptee was an unusual bonus, indicating the amount of effort that the author has undertaken to make project successful. Level of outreach was also very good.

In 2013 the runners up were Guildford BSAC for their HMT Pine Project.Runners up 2013

Judges comments: This is a worthwhile project for any dive club. We liked the way that the club realised the problems of doldrums within the club and did something about the problem. A carefully chosen project that all the club could take part in because of the wreck depth. The project was widened the remit to another wreck sank in the same convoy to include the more advanced diver and used the prime wreck for diver and archaeological training and to experience the pitfall and setbacks involved. Other peoples research work drawn nicely together by the club. The project contained a good level of outreach.

2012A winner
The 2012 award was presented to the Southsea Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) ( for project “Kedge Hook” - the wreck of a British WW2 Tank Landing Craft in the Eastern approaches to Portsmouth Harbour, believed to be that of HMLCT 427 which sank on her return to Portsmouth after delivering her cargo of tanks on D Day.

The AaW award for 2011 was awarded to the Weymouth Lunar Society ( for their outstanding desk based research on the “Lost torpedoes of Weymouth and Portland”. This project has not only enlightened us with new and exciting information regarding early British torpedoes but also how vital it is to utilise divers and non divers to produce a high quality archaeological report.

A winnerMeanwhile, the certificate of merit went to Paul Barnett and “Friends of Purton” ( for their involvement with “The Arkendale H & Wastedale H Severn and Wye Railway Bridge Disaster”. Those involved have produced an exceptional level of work regarding the promotion of the disaster and protection of the wrecks, and not to mention the memorial for those who lost their lives.

The New Forest National Park Authority ( was also awarded a certificate of merit for their work on the “Underwater Heritage Trail”. They showed good training and utilisation of volunteers and paid staff to achieve a new way for divers and non-divers to learn about dive sites in their local area.

The final certificate of merit was awarded to the Southsea Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC) ( and their project, “Kedge Hook- HMLCT 427”.

2010A winner
The 2010 award went to Southsea Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) ( - the first dive group to win the award twice in a row. They were presented the award for their work on the site “Patch”, which is believed to be the Landing Craft LTC (A) 2428. If this is the case it would directly link “Patch” to the “Tanks & Bulldozers” site which the dive group are also involved with.

In 2009, the award went to the Southsea Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) ( for their work on the “Tanks & Bulldozers 'Sleeping Centaurs'” site off the south coast of England. The project involved recorded and identifying the vehicles.

2008A winner
The 2008 AaW Award was presented to Ed Cumming and Todd Stevens of the Islands Maritime Archaeology Group for their work on the “Rosevear Ledge Site”. Work was carried out on the site to try to positively identify the site as that of the Nancy packet. This was done through historical research and visits to the site. The results of the research have been published in an historical fiction book and as a CD Rom.

2007A winner
The 2007 award went to Paul Barnett for his work on the “Purton Hulks”. Paul has adopted all 80 of the hulks which are located along the banks of the river Severn between Purton and Sharpness. He has carried out intensive historical research combined with archaeological surveys of the remaining hulks assisted by the Friends of Purton ( and the NAS.

In 2006 the AaW was not awarded. But certificates of merit were presented to: Millenium Divers Dorset for their work on the “Unknown Coaster”, Portland Harbour and to the Islands Maritime Archaeology Group for their work on the Unknown Wreck, “Crim Reef”.

2005 A winner
The 2005 Adopt a Wreck Award was presented to the Weymouth Lunar Society ( for their work on the site of the “Earl of Abergavenny” in Weymouth Bay. The project aimed to record and monitor the site and to undertake a commemorative and outreach programme to divers and the general public to coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the sinking.

2004 A winner
In 2004 the award went to the Queen's University Belfast Sub-Aqua Club (QUBSAC) ( for their investigation of the “Alastor”, a steel-hulled luxury motor yacht that sank in 1948. The work included survey and historical research that was able to correctly identify this site which had previously been known as the “Alisdair”.

2003A winner
The first annual AaW award was won by the Joint Services Dive Club ( and the Gibraltar Museum's Underwater Research Unit ( for their work the “Inner and Outer” wreck sites, located off the detached breakwater (mole), Gibraltar Harbour. Work was carried out to try and identify the sites and determine if they are the remains of one vessel or two.