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Map ReferenceSH39NE
Grid ReferenceSH3964699127
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
Period20th Century

The APAPA was located in June 1972 and soon after a salvage company recovered silver coin, bullion, the ship's two propellers and the ship's bell. The wreck lies on its starboard side with the bow pointing towards the coast. The port side of the vessel displays a large fissure running from admidships towards the stern where the internal structure and machinery of the ship are visible. The central superstructure is collapsing onto the seabed, but aft accommodation is still intact. The fore and aft masts lie on the seabed in the semblance of their original locations. A six inch gun remains visible at the bow. The items recovered and reported to the Receiver of Wreck include a 6in shellcase, a light housing, a chamber pot, floor tiles, a cup and a porthole.

Event and Historical Information:
The APAPA was a steel-hulled steamship built by Harland & Wolff at Glasgow in 1914. Technical and configuration specifications are given as 7832gt, 4812nt; 425ft 7in long x 57ft 3in breadth x 31ft 3in depth; 3 x decks, passenger and boat deck 305ft, forecastle 53ft; twin screw propulsion powered by 5 steam boilers linked to two quadruple engines; armed with 1 x 6ins QF and a stern gun; official number 136797, international code signal JKDR. The APAPA was commissioned during the period when the Elder Dempster line/company was owned by Sir Owen Phillips and Lord Pirrie. The APAPA was one of the new and larger passenger ships commissioned for the West African Mail Service. The owner actually noted in the Mercantile Navy List 1917 was the African Steamship Co, 23 Billiter Street, City London, with Edwin Bicker-Caarten given as manager - the African Steamship Company had become part of Elder Dempster in 1891.
The ship had left Sierra Leone in convoy in early November 1917 under the command of Captain James Thomas Toft. The ship had 119 passengers and 132 crewmembers on board. The convoy was escorted by six destroyers for much of the voyage. On reaching the English Channel, the convoy divided with three of the destroyers continuing with the Liverpool bound ships ? the APAPA, CITY OF GLASGOW and CIRCASSIA. At around 6.30pm on 27 November, the destroyers parted company with merchant vessels and headed for Milford Haven. The merchant ships stayed together until around 10.00pm when they lost sight of each other. There were 10 lookouts posted, including the master and 2nd and 4th officers on the bridge. The APAPA continued on a zigzag course at 13.5knots until, whilst steering a course 2 miles north of Port Lynas, the ship was torpedoed by the German submarine U96 under the command of Lieutenant Jeb. The APAPA was hit on the starboard side towards the stern. Captain Toft ordered that the APAPA's boats be lowered and that all the women be on those boats. As the boats were loading, a second torpedo struck the starboard side amidships. The ship lurched to starboard and some of the lifeboats were swamped in the explosion. The funnel collapsed onto another of the lifeboats that was just about to be launched. A few moments later, the ship capsized and sank stern first. 40 passengers and 37 crewmembers went down with the ship. 79 passengers and 95 crewmembers managed to board the ship's six lifeboats, which were later taken in tow by two steam drifters. The ship was included in the multi-beam surveys undertaken by Bangor University in 2018, as part of the Royal Commission's HLF funded Partnership Project - 'Commemorating the Forgotten U-Boat War around the Welsh Coast 1914-18'.


Sources include:

ADM137/4005 Home Waters Ships Attacked November 16-20 1917, The National Archives, Kew
Apapa, U-Boat Project: Commemorating the War at Sea
Appropriation Books, Official Numbers 136751 - 136800 (136797)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Y Drafod, 7 December 1917, p.5
Gater, D, 1992, Historic Shipwrecks of Wales, p.131
Evans, D E, 2007, Troubled Waters, pp.115-21
Larn and Larn Shipwreck database 2002
Lloyd's Register Casualty Returns, 1 October - 31 December 1917, p.9 (i)
Mercantile Navy List 1917, p.28
The North Wales Chronicle, 7 December 1917, p.2
Receiver of Wreck Droits Database 2007, RCIM6/2/5
Wynne-Jones, I, Shipwrecks of North Wales, 4th edition, p.82


Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, March 2019.

This record was enhanced in 2020 with funding from Lloyd's Register Foundation as part of the project ‘Making the Link: Lloyd's Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales’. Visit Lloyd’s Register Foundation Heritage and Education Centre for more resources.