Researchers have located the wreck of an Australian freighter sunk by a Japanese submarine during World War II, 77 years after it was lost.
The lost ship was located by maritime archaeologists using CSIRO research vessel Investigator.
The SS Iron Crown, a 100-meter long ore freighter, was sunk by a Japanese submarine on June 4, 1942 while travelling through Bass Strait with a cargo of manganese ore. The heavily loaded freighter was hit by a torpedo from the submarine and sank within 60 seconds.
Peter Harvey, a maritime archaeologist with Heritage Victoria said it is one of Victoria’s worst shipwrecks in terms of loss of life.
“The Iron Crown is historically significant as one of only four World War II shipwrecks in Victorian waters and is the only ship to have been torpedoed by a submarine in Victorian waters,” Harvey said.
“There were 43 crew from the Australian Merchant Navy on board the ship and 38 lost their lives in the attack. Locating the wreck after 77 years of not knowing its final resting place will bring closure for relatives and family of those that were lost at sea, as well as for Australia’s maritime community.”
Iron Crown was located using multibeam sonar equipment and a special drop camera on research vessel Investigator, which returned to its home port of Hobart on the morning.
Voyage Chief Scientist, Emily Jateff from the Australian National Maritime Museum, led the search and said the wreck was located about 100km off the Victorian coastline south of the border with New South Wales.
“The wreck of Iron Crown appears to be relatively intact and the ship is sitting upright on the seafloor in about 700 meters of water,” Jateff said.
Imagery from the camera survey clearly shows the intact bow of the ship, with railings, anchor chains and both anchors still in position, as well as other structures on the deck.
The discovery of Iron Crown is an event of national significance, CSIRO said, adding that it has been reported to the Victorian and Australian governments. A memorial service will be planned for the site.
All historic shipwrecks (shipwrecks greater than 75 years old) in Australian waters and any relics or artefacts from those wrecks are protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.
CSIRO research vessel Investigator has discovered a number of historic shipwrecks in recent years, including solving a 74-year mystery in 2017 when it located the wreck of SS Macumba, an Australian merchant ship sunk in World War II during a Japanese air attack in Northern Territory waters.