James Eagan Layne (50°19.609 N, 04°14.720 W)
This may be the best-known wreck in the UK. If you haven’t dived it, then you are possibly standing next to someone who has. So here are a few things you may not know:
- Most people spell the poor chap’s name wrongly, including Trinity House on the old buoy that marked it.
- 2,700 Liberty ships were built during World War Two, built by the mile chopped off by the yard.
- Kapitan Leutnant Ernst Cordes sank it from his command U 1195.
- Liberty ships were nicknamed the Ugly Ducklings, or Expendables.
- She was built with 43 miles of welding. The first Liberty ship took 255 days to build, the tenth took 154 days. The record was four days and 15 hours!
- James Eagan Layne was a second engineer in the US merchant marine. He died aged 39 when the tanker Esso Baton Rouge was torpedoed off the east coast of the States in 1942.
Liberties were 441 ft long with a 56ft beam. Of the 2,700 Liberties built only 195 were lost. They displaced 14,275 tons and carried 9,000 tons of cargo at a stately 11 knots.