A PASSENGER ship built in Dumbarton in the 1920s and sunk by bombing in World War II has been raised from the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka after 75 years underwater.

The 8,000-ton SS Sagaing was built at the shipyard of William Denny and Bros on the Leven for the British and Burmese Steam Navigation Company and the Burmah Steam Ship company managed by P Henderson and Co.

Denny’s was the most important yard on the Leven from 1844 to 1963.

On April 9, 1942, one of its many feats of engineering, the Sagaing, was bombed by a Japanese carrier aircraft during Japan’s infamous Indian Ocean raid, while at anchorage in Trimcomalee Harbour.

Almost all of the crew and the passengers of the SS Sagaing managed to survive the raid and abandoned the ship, which was badly damaged and set on fire.

After the bombing she drifted into the Malay Cove in Trincomalee harbour and on August 1943 she was deliberately sunk to 35 feet below the surface to create a pier for naval ships.

Now, the hull of the wreck has been brought to the surface after months of painstaking work and a mammoth salvage effort by the Sri Lankan Navy.

According to reports, the Sri Lankan authorities took the decision to raise the vessel from her resting place as they needed more space at Trincomalee, renowned as one of the world’s great natural deep-water harbours.

Work began September 11, 2017, and involved 98 divers from the Sri Lankan Navy’s Eastern Command permanently deployed to the project ,who helped to strengthen the frame of the 452ft long wreck before refloating the ship.

The team of divers erected an artificial side to the ship to seal it before “de-watering” the vessel to recover lost buoyancy.

The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) stated: “After a series of dedicated endeavours made along a period of five months, on March 22 the wreck started to ascend to the surface proving the professionalism and instinct of SLN divers.”

The Sagaing was also involved in a tragic incident shortly after the start of the war in October 1939 when it was being pursued by a U-boat. Some passengers panicked, got aboard a lifeboat and were lost at sea, the tragic irony being that the U-boat failed to carry out its attack.