The steel steam tanker Baku Standard was launched from the Low Walker yard of Armstrong and Mitchell on 20th December 1892 for the Petroleum Transport and Storage Co Ltd. She measured 330.6′ x 43.0′ x 23.0′ and weighed 3708 gross tons, 2475 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Co Ltd delivering 293 net horse power. In 1897 the company name changed to the European Petroleum Co Ltd and changed again to Associated Oil Carriers Ltd in 1911.
Up to the outbreak of World War One she made multiple trans Atlantic voyages bringing crude oil to various European ports. She also made a number of voyages to the Far East including Shanghai, The East Indies and Ceylon. On 11th August 1914 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for naval service as an oiler for the fleet. She operated successfully in this role throughout the war until her final voyage. In February 1911 she left Greenock with a cargo of crude oil headed to the Firth of Forth.
On the 11 February 1918, as the Baku Standard rounded Kinnaird Head and steered south down the east coast of Scotland the crew were unaware of the patrol of the German U-boat UC-58 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Karl Vesper. Vesper had returned to the same area of the North Sea which had proved so successful for him only a month earlier when he sank the SS Ennismore, SS Eriksholm and SS Adolph Meyer off Aberdeen. Vesper had only arrived in his patrol area hours earlier when he spotted the Baku Standard through his periscope and fired a single torpedo which hit her a few seconds later. 21 of the crew of the Baku Standard, 2 Royal Naval reservists and a regular Royal Navy seaman were killed as the vessel exploded and quickly sank. UC-58 escaped and was to sink the SS St Magnus the following day before returning to his German base.
The wreck of the Baku Standard has been the subject incorrect identification for many years and although currently stated as the wreck of the Queensbury the wreck in position 56° 47.136’N, 002° 11.803’W has been positively identified as Baku Standard. She lies in 55 metres with a least depth of 42 metres oriented 015/195 degrees. The wreck sits upright and mainly in tact with most of her superstructure gone. The engine in the stern is clearly visible as is the torpedo damage on her port side. The deck forward of the bridge has collapsed but bow still standing upright.
We would like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.