The following presents new data collected as part of a recent Historic Scotland funded project – the Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey – which aimed to assess the extent and condition of some of the sites around Scapa Flow.
A German Bayern-class Battleship, the Bayern was launched on the 18th February 1915 and commissioned into the German Imperial Navy on 15th July 1916. The vessel was interned in Scapa Flow with the majority of the German High Seas Fleet in November 1918 and was scuttled on 21st June 1919. The remains were salvaged in September 1934, during which time the turrets broke free of the ship. These were towed to Rosyth and were scrapped in 1935.
More information about the salvage activities in Scapa Flow can be found in the history section.
Multi Beam Echo Sounder surveys were completed over the salvage site of the SMS Bayern as part of the ScapaMap project. These surveys documented a pair of depressions from where the ship lay; debris, and the remains of four turrets which broke free of the ship during the salvage operation in 1934.
The turrets sit on a mud bottom in 38m – 45m of water in an area of slight tide.
The eastern turrets (known to be the remains of Caesar and Dora) are well preserved. They stand approximately 8.3m proud of the seabed. At depth the remains of various hand wheels, machinery, transformers, electrics and electrical wires can be seen. These include a training pinion, central ammunition hoist press, gun loading hoist press, gun loading tray, and main hydraulic exhaust tank amongst others. The ball bearing centring ring in situ and are very well preserved (Bagnasco and deToro, 2011; van der Vat, 1986; Friedman, 2011; Gardiner, 1992 and Roberts, 2010). Close to inner of the two eastern turrets (Caesar) there is a section of mast. It is possible to enter the armoured gun house near to the seabed and see the inside of some features of the turret that are subsurface externally. The breach of the gun and gun mount can be seen inside the armoured gun house, and the firing mechanism has been removed as per the conditions of the internment (van der Vat, 1986: 143)
Similar features are visible on the outer of the two intact turrets. There is some miscellaneous debris between them.
The western turrets (Anton and Bruno) have sustained more damage – the result of a failed first salvage attempt in 1934. The Bayern lost buoyancy and sank to the seabed at a slight angle crushing this set of turrets.
The barbette of the outer of the two turrets (Anton) has been pushed over to the west and the remains now sit horizontal to the seabed. Various bits of machinery, electrics, wires and piping required to work the turrets are visible including the central hoist, cordite waiting trays, gun loading cage and top pulley of the gun loading cage lifting wire. The ball bearing centring ring appears to have been damaged when the turret was crushed. To the east side of the turret there is a hatch where it is possible to see within the armoured gun house. There is a heavy chain lying across the aft part of the barbettes, but this would not have been part of the original structure. Additional portions of heavy chain are found to north of the turret
The inner of the two turrets (Bruno) to the west stands approximately 3m proud of the seabed. Most of the structures and machinery visible on the other turrets are not present on this part of the site, although the ball bearing centring ring can still be seen. There is another hatch which has a ladder leading into the armoured gun house. This is surrounded by several pieces of coal.
There is a davit on the seabed to the south of this inner turret.
Side Scan Data
The side scan images show two pairs of circular contacts which are spaced 56m apart and aligned east to west. The two circular contacts to the west are more broken down than the two to the east which are intact. These contacts are interpreted as being four barbettes which form the lower part of a battleship gun turret. On the two western turrets the aft part of the armoured gun house is visible. There is a debris field between the two sets.