With her Wreck Champions initiative off to a promising start, Jane Maddocks has advice on how to begin gathering data… 

When I started Wreck Champions to celebrate 50 years since the formation of the Protected Wrecks Association, I thought we would be lucky to get six groups who wanted to be involved in the recording of wrecks that are protected by being scheduled as ancient monuments of national importance. This is using an old piece of legislation in a new way, protecting our underwater heritage. 

I was anticipating a nice, quiet pilot year, in which I could get all the systems sorted, discuss how it could develop with our heritage friends in all four parts of the UK, and set up the forms and archiving needed to get this off the ground.

if you have a wreck in mind, let’s start recording it and its story

I got that wrong! I am absolutely thrilled to say that at the moment there are at least 20 groups and individuals who have taken on the challenge. Absolutely wonderful! So, 20 in the pilot group. Not all are BSAC, but they are all divers, and the idea of being a Wreck Champion appeals to their wish to help look after our underwater heritage.  

I have been really pleased with the level of support from so many individuals. Apart from those who wish to be voluntary custodians of our underwater heritage, I have had support from the Protected Wrecks Association (PWA). 

They have created forms, sourced out Hi-Vis vests, and allowed my approach to so many others to be made with their name and provenance, as a serious organisation looking after our cultural heritage.

The heritage organisations have been really supportive of the initiative. This sounds a very obvious thing for them to support, but they have to work to guidelines, and with conformity to their country’s specific laws around wrecks. It is a work in progress. They are frantically busy; they are doing everything they can to be supportive. All help is welcome.

So, if you want to think about it a bit more – what does it involve?

Select a wreck that you would like to be involved with. Then email me, I will send you a registration form. Complete the form, send it in and then I will send you a risk assessment form (for the wreck – I know you do your diving risk assessments). Next, you should dive that wreck at least once this year. Complete the ‘wreck at risk’ form and submit it. That’s it. 

There is more, if you want to do more. A short report is always good. The obvious bits first: name; position with Lat and Long. Then, get access to Wrecksite.eu or one of the many wreck tours available online; amass all the information you can find about the wreck.

If you know the story of the vessel, then put that in the report. If you don’t, then perhaps do a bit of research so that you understand how the wreck came to be at the bottom of the sea.

If you have video, then a clip put onto YouTube would be amazing, especially if you do a general swim-over with some footage showing the special things that grab your attention. If you have 3D specialists that would be wonderful as well.

For those who want to do the risk assessment form plus a report, you will be automatically entered for the BSAC Wreck Award. This is a gorgeous trophy, not awarded for some time. The wreck is the centre of the story. I would love to see 20 entries for the award, together with images of your team.  

Perhaps you have got a very shallow wreck, and your young Ocean Diver trainees are involved in the recording and discovery. Perhaps you are one of the rarest of groups, an all-female team. Perhaps you are a university group, or perhaps you are one of those groups where you are still diving with enjoyment at an age when everyone else thinks you should not be doing anything too strenuous. Or maybe you are a group or team who ticks all of those boxes.  

Whatever, if you have a wreck in mind, let’s start recording it and its story. Email me at: heritage@bsac.com 

Article by Jane Maddocks first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 137 July/August 2023.

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