One of the biggest attractions for divers in the Croatian part of the Adriatic is the sunken Austro-Hungarian passenger steamer ship, SS Baron Gautsch, which sank near Rovinj in 1914.
Divers love going to sunken ships, it is considered one of the biggest attractions of getting below the surface, seing what humanity has permanently deposited at the bottom. One of such destinations in Croatia that gets most attention and the biggest number of diving visitors each year is the SS Baron Gautsch wreck, located at the coordinates 44° 56′ 25″ N, 13° 34′ 40″ E at the depth of 28 to 40 meters.
Back in the day, she was the pride of the Austrian passenger navy, a 85 meter long steamboat that connected ports in Austrian Istria and Dalmatia before the WWI, but was used for humanitarian missions during the war. She was on one on the 12th of August, 1914 as well, taking civilians from Kotor to Trieste, when the captain got too close to the minefields set near the Rovinj port by the Austrian Navy. She hit one of the mines and sank completely within minutes, taking many of the civilians on board to the bottom. Many Austrian vessels were in the vicinity, and they managed to save 159 people from the water, while the official number of casualties stands at 147.
The wreck is situated at the bottom in an upright position, giving it an eery appearance of still afloat. The masts and other details have been broken, and propellers have been removed. The hole in the full of the boat, caused by the mine, is still clearly visible. Because of the depth of up to 42 meters, experienced advanced divers are allowed to make the dive.
The wreck is protected by the Ministry of Culture, so in order to dive to it and to explore, you need to dive with one of the authorised diving centers (most diving centres from Istria are authorised for this dive).