The proud of Austro-Hungarian Lloyd ( Oesterreichische Lloyd)- steamboat “Baron Gautsch”, used to connect the coastline between Trieste-Dubrovnik-Kotor. At the turn of 20th Century, “Baron Gautsch” was the most beautiful and advanced steamboat of the Austro-Hungarian passengers fleet. However, the beginning of World War I(1914) was also the start of downfall of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The announcement of war was imminent. Civil servants and military officers (of this, once mighty empire) were taking their wives and children to Italy, who, at the beginning of august, 1914- declared itself as a neutral state. On Thursday of August 13th, 1914, the steamboat made its last trip never to come back. That day it sailed out from Kotor towards the port of Trieste, where he never made it out. In Fact, at 14 o’clock and 45 minutes, the steamboat- with its left side, hits its own country’s underwater mine. In less than 10 minutes it disappears from the sea surface, taking with it numerous civil servants, military officers and their families, just as well as countless tourists, who, from the Adriatic tourist resorts – set out to reach than safer Italy. Some passengers were saved following the accident, while a bigger number of them disappeared together with the steamboat, at the 40m sea depth in front of the town of Rovinj. The sinking of „Baron Gautsch“-is the most tragic shipwreck of the civil fleet in the Adriatic, just as well as the second biggest sea accident involving civil victims- after the Titanic. Fallen passengers are considered to be the first civil victims of World War I.
With the growth of tourism, especially diving tourism, the steamboat wreck of “Baron Gautsch” becomes the most attractive diving location of the Adriatic, just as well as one of the most famous and attractive diving locations of Europe and the word. According to German magazines, the wreck of “Baron Gautsch” finds its place between Europe’s 10 most attractive diving locations. Furthermore, the Red Sea Wreck Academy UK voted it between 50 most attractive wrecks in the world. Nowadays, the wreck falls under conservation and care of Croatian Ministry of Culture.