Tag Archives: sunk

What happens now we’ve found the site of the lost Australian freighter SS Iron Crown, sunk in WWII



File 20190423 175521 rnurec.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A bathymetric map showing SS Iron Crown on the sea floor.
CSIRO, Author provided

Emily Jateff, Flinders University and Maddy McAllister, James Cook University

Finding shipwrecks isn’t easy – it’s a combination of survivor reports, excellent archival research, a highly skilled team, top equipment and some good old-fashioned luck.

And that’s just what happened with the recent discovery of SS Iron Crown, lost off the coast of Victoria in Bass Strait during the second world war.

Based on archival research by Heritage Victoria and the Maritime Archaeological Association of Victoria, we scoped an area for investigation of approximately 3 by 5 nautical miles, at a location 44 nautical miles SSW of Gabo Island.

Hunting by sound

We used the CSIRO research vessel Investigator to look for the sunken vessel. The Investigator deploys multibeam echosounder technology on a gondola 1.2 metres below the hull.

Multibeam echosounders send acoustic signal beams down and out from the vessel and measure both the signal strength and time of return on a receiver array.

The science team watches the survey from the operations room of the CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator.
CSIRO, Author provided

The receiver transmits the data to the operations room for real-time processing. These data provide topographic information and register features within the water column and on the seabed.

At 8pm on April 16, we arrived on site and within a couple of hours noted a feature in the multibeam data that looked suspiciously like a shipwreck. It measured 100m in length with an approximate beam of 16-22m and profile of 8m sitting at a water depth of 650m.

Given that we were close to maxing out what the multibeam could do, it provided an excellent opportunity to put the drop camera in the water and get “eyes on”.

Down goes the camera.

The camera collected footage of the stern, midship and bow sections of the wreck. These were compared to archival photos. Given the location, dimension and noted features, we identified it as SS Iron Crown.

The merchant steamer

SS Iron Crown was an Australian merchant vessel built at the government dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria, in 1922.

SS Iron Crown afloat.
South Australian Maritime Museum, Author provided

On June 4 1942, the steel screw steamer of the merchant vavy was transporting manganese ore and iron ore from Whyalla to Newcastle when it was torpedoed by the Japanese Imperial Type B (巡潜乙型) submarine I-27.

Survivor accounts state that the torpedo struck the vessel on the port side, aft of the bridge. It sank within minutes. Thirty-eight of the 43 crew went down with the ship.

This vessel is one of four WWII losses in Victorian waters (the others were HMAS Goorangai lost in a collision, SS Cambridge and MV City of Rayville lost to mines) and the only vessel torpedoed.

After the discovery

Now we’ve finally located the wreck – seven decades after it was sunk – it is what happens next that is truly interesting.

A bathymetric map showing SS Iron Crown on the sea floor with its bow on the right.
CSIRO, Author provided

It’s not just the opportunity to finally do an in-depth review of the collected footage stored on an external hard drive and shoved in my backpack, but to take the important step of ensuring how the story is told going forward.

When a shipwreck is located, the finder must report it within seven days to the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwreck Program or to the recognised delegate in each state/territory with location information and as much other relevant data as possible.

Shipwrecks aren’t just found by professionals, but are often located by knowledgeable divers, surveyors, the military, transport ships and beachcombers. It’s no big surprise that many shipwrecks are well-known community fishing spots.

While it is possible to access the site using remotely operated vehicles or submersibles, we hope the data retrieved from this voyage will be enough.

It was only 77 years ago that the SS Iron Crown went down. This means it still has a presence in the memories of the communities and families that were touched by the event and its aftermath.

No war grave, but protected

Even though those who died were merchant navy, the site isn’t officially recognised yet as a war grave. But thanks to both state and Commonwealth legislation, the SS Iron Crown was protected before it was even located.

All shipwrecks over 75 years of age are protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. It is an offence to damage or remove anything from the site.

A drop camera view of the bow of SS Iron Crown with anchor chains.
CSIRO, Author provided

This protection is enhanced by its location in deeper water and, one hopes, by the circumstances of its loss.

Sitting on the sea floor in Bass Strait, SS Iron Crown is well below the reach of even technical divers. So the site is unlikely to be illegally salvaged for artefacts and treasures.

Yet this also means that maritime archaeologists have limited access to the site and the data that can be learnt from an untouched, well-preserved shipwreck.

Virtual wreck sites

But, like the increasing capabilities for locating such sites, maritime archaeologists now have access to digital mapping, 3D modelling technologies and high-resolution imagery as was used for the British Merchant Navy shipwreck of the SS Thistlegorm.

You can move within the video.

These can even allow us to record shipwreck sites (at whatever the depth) and present them to the public in a vibrant and engaging medium.




Read more:
VR technology gives new meaning to ‘holidaying at home’. But is it really a substitute for travel?


Better than a thousand words could ever describe, these realistic models allow us to convey the excitement, wonder and awe that we have all felt at a shipwreck.
Digital 3D models enable those who cannot dive, travel or ever dream of visiting shipwrecks to do so through their laptops, mobiles and other digital devices.

Without these capabilities to record, visualise and manage these deepwater sites, they will literally fade back into the depths of the ocean, leaving only the archaeologists and a few shipwreck enthusiasts to investigate and appreciate them.

So that’s the next step, a bigger challenge than finding a site, to record a deepwater shipwreck and enable the public to experience a well-preserved shipwreck.The Conversation

SS Iron Crown alongside SS Hagen.
National Library of Australia, Author provided

Emily Jateff, Adjunct lecturer in archaeology, Flinders University and Maddy McAllister, Senior Curator – Maritime Archaeology, James Cook University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Australia: The AHS Centaur


The link below is to an article on the AHS Centaur, that was sunk during World War II.

For more visit:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-29569135


Article: WWII Shipwreck – S.S. Gairsoppa


The link below is to an article (with photos) concerning the S.S. Gairsoppa, which was sunk by a Nazi U-boat in 1941. The wreck is deeper than the Titanic and salvage work has been removing its precious cargo.

For more visit:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/07/pictures/120726-silver-gairsoppa-world-war-ii-shipwreck-science-odyssey/


Today in History: 29 May 1914


Canada: The RMS Empress of Ireland Sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

On this day in 1914, 1024 people died when the ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland sunk in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. It had collided in the early hours of the morning with the Norwegian collier ‘Storstad.’

Launched in 1906, the Empress of Ireland often crossed between Quebec in Canada and Liverpool in England. It had not long departed on another crossing when the accident occurred. There was a heavy fog which resulted in both ships not being able to see the other.

For more visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Empress_of_Ireland_(1906)


Today in History: 25 May 1982


Falkland Islands: Falklands War – HMS Coventry is Sunk

On this day in 1982, during the Falklands War, the HMS Coventry was sunk by Argentine Air Force A-4 Skyhawk aircarft.

The HMS Coventry was a Type 42 (Sheffield Class) Destroyer in the Royal Navy, commissioned on the 10th November 1978. The Argentine bombing raid resulted in the loss of the Coventry, with 19 of her crew killed and 30 injured. The ship capsized before sinking not longer after.

For more visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Coventry_(D118)


Today in History: 14 May 1943


Australia: Queensland – The AHS Centaur is Sunk by a Japanese Submarine

On this day in 1943 off the Queensland coast (Australia), the AHS Centaur is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sunk. The Centaur was a hospital ship, with 268 of the 332 people on board killed as a result of the attack. The submarine responsible for the attack was the I-177.

For more, visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AHS_Centaur


Today in History – 19 April 1587


Sir Francis Drake Destroys the Spanish Fleet in Cadiz, Spain

War had broken out (Anglo-Spanish War of 1585 to 1604) between the Spanish and English – between Roman Catholic Spain and Protestant England. But it was more than just a religious war, for there were also political and economic agitations. English privateers were having a major impact on Spanish shipping. English support for the Netherlands in their fight for independence against Spain and also their support for an alternative Portuguese ruler (Portugal were in league with Spain) were a constant annoyance to the Spanish Empire. England saw Spain as a major threat to their security. Soon it was war, with Spain determined to invade England and crush Protestantism in its infancy.

Sir Francis Drake had been one of the thorns in Spain’s side, acting as a privateer in the Spanish Indies and taking many a Spanish ship as a prize. He was given command of an English fleet and set out to attack the Spanish on the 12th April 1587. On the 19th April 1587, Sir Francis Drake carried out what he described as having ‘singed the beard of the King of Spain,’ by sinking the Spanish fleet at harbor in the Bay of Cadiz, Spain. Up to 33 ships were destroyed and four were captured. This occurred the year prior to the sinking of the Spanish Armada during the attempted invasion of England.

When the fleet returned to England on the 6th of July, they had sunk over 100 enemy vessels and suceeded in setting back the planned Spanish invasion of England by a year. Drake had already sealed his place in history as one of England’s heroes, but his work had only just begun.

 


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