Image courtesy of Rick Ayrton
Following a break in 2021 due to the pandemic, BSAC has announced the 2022 winners of the Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award.
The ‘Gasperados’, led by BSAC diver Steve Mortimer, have scooped this year’s award for their inspiring expedition to identify a significant Royal Navy submarine – the HMS D1 – in waters off Dartmouth.
Set up in memory of BSAC co-founder and renowned science journalist Peter Small, the award is given each year to ‘the most worthwhile and ambitious BSAC project conducted in British waters.’ It is awarded jointly by the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust and BSAC’s National Diving Committee, with the winners receiving a prize of £1,000.
The 2022 award winners comprise of a group of technical divers from the BSAC membership. Known as the Gasperados, the team worked alongside US-based U-boat historian Michael Lowry to investigate the possible misidentification of a submarine wreck presumed to be a First World War German mine-laying sub, the UC 49.
Gasperados project leader, Steve Mortimer, said the team came on board after Michael suggested the identification could be wrong. The wreck site had been linked to the UC 49, which was believed to have been sunk by a Royal Navy destroyer in 1918. However, investigations by Michael Lowrey suggested that the UC 49 was responsible for the sinking of another ship after this date, meaning the wreck was most likely a different submarine.
Michael was writing a book about First World War U-boat losses, and if this wasn't UC 49, then it could have possibly been one of the missing boats - hence his interest. And it turned out to be something quite different.
On their exploratory dives of the 50m site, the Gasperados collected new data, including photographs and video, all of which enabled Michael, Steve, and the team to re-evaluate the evidence. Their conclusion was that the wreck was the HMS D1, the Royal Navy’s first submarine designed for long-range operations.
Steve was recently presented with the Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award by BSAC’s Head of Diving and Training Dom Robinson. He now hopes the Gasperados’ success will inspire other BSAC clubs or diver teams to consider entering their expeditions for a future award. Steve said:
For us, a big part of discovery is sharing our enthusiasm with others. And so it's great to get recognition for our efforts from the Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award. I’d also encourage other BSAC divers to put themselves forward for the award, as even if we hadn't been successful, the process of applying has helped us to plan how to do future projects even more effectively.
Looking to enter your project for the Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award 2023?
All eligible diving projects should promote the advancement of underwater exploration and the education of the public by encouraging safe diving while conducting underwater study, research, and exploration.
Applications for the award can be made to the BSAC Expeditions Officer, c/o BSAC HQ accompanied by both a digital and hard copy report on the project. BSAC's National Diving Officer with assistance from BSAC's Expeditions Officer will nominate up to three projects for the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust to consider and select the award recipient.
For more information on the Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award and to read the Gasperados’ full project report, as well as previous winners, go to bsac.com/awards