Ship that vanished with entire crew finally found after 120 years

Ship that vanished with entire crew finally found after 120 years
Mystery ship that vanished with 32 crew members finally found after 120 …
New York Post / VideoElephant

A mystery that has lurked beneath the waves for more than a century has finally been solved thanks to a chance encounter.

The remains of a steamship that vanished off the coast of Australia back in 1904, was found almost 120 years later by undersea explorers who were carrying out an underwater survey.

The SS Nemesis was transporting coal from Newcastle (Australia) to Melbourne when it was caught in a devastating storm in the waters off New South Wales.

It disappeared along with all 32 of its crew members, who were aged between 18 and 56 and came from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Norway, and British Guinea, ABC News reports.

And whilst some of the bodies and fragments of the 73-metre-long vessel washed ashore in the days following the storm, the wreckage itself was never seen again.

The SS Nemesis disappeared after being caught in a powerful storm(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

However, in May 2022, ocean survey company Subsea Professional Marine Services was searching the seafloor when it happened across the uncharted wreck.

Ed Korber was part of the team that made that initial find. He told ABC News: "We were on a different project and we had deployed our sight scan equipment looking for other objects.

"And one of our technicians on the computer watching the data coming through called me up at one o'clock in the morning saying: 'Hey listen, I think I've got something quite interesting here.'

"The next day we could see from the size of the shadow it was actually something quite significant.

"We could see the bow, we could see the stern was missing, so just studying that footage and having the experience and expertise in this field I knew we were onto something quite significant.”

Following the Subsea team’s discovery, Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, went to investigate the mysterious sunken ship in September 2023.

Using advanced multibeam sensors, the CSIRO team mapped the wreck site – which now lies 160m down and around 28km off the coast of Wollongong – in high resolution. They then used a specialised underwater camera system to explore the area.

Seafloor mapping of the 120-year-old wreck (CSIRO)

"Our voyage track took us right past the wreck, and we were extremely lucky with the conditions for the survey, with our team onboard doing a superb job in capturing incredible imagery of the wreck," CSIRO voyage manager Jason Fazey said in a statement.

"We surveyed the entire length of the wreck with our drop camera, revealing a lot of detail of the ship's structures, including some of the internal spaces."

Phil Vandenbossche, a CSIRO surveyor who was part of the mission, confirmed that the wreck is now “sitting upright on the seafloor” but is showing “significant damage and deterioration at both the bow and stern”.

Still, he said they identified some “key structures [that] were still intact and identifiable, including two of the ship's anchors lying on the seafloor."

This has enabled archaeology experts to confidently confirm that the long-lost ship is, indeed, the SS Nemesis.

Incredible footage of the shipwreck of SS Nemesis captured by CSIRO research vessel Investigator

Now, authorities are calling on relatives of the lost crew to come forward and lay their past to rest.

"Up till now, they didn't know what happened to them," NSW Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe said in a statement.

"We don't know where all of the families are and so, for me, today is really a call-out to say please get in contact with either my office or Heritage NSW."

Tim Smith, director of assessments at Heritage NSW, said the case offered a unique opportunity to uncover more about Australia’s maritime history.

“And for the families who can connect their family histories to an event like this, it gives them a focus,” he told ABC News.

“We are really hoping people will have memorabilia, photographs of the men, and the single woman who were on this ship."

Dr Brad Duncan, a Senior Maritime Archaeologist at Heritage NSW, agreed, saying: "This discovery and confirmation of the wreck's identity not only provides significant archaeological information about the ship and wrecking event but, more importantly, may offer some solace to the families and friends of those who perished onboard as it provides a location at which they can mourn their loved ones."

He also noted: “The wreck is one of many thousands of shipwrecks that lie along the Australian coastline, with many still to be found.”

In other words, there are plenty more mysteries to solve deep beneath the waves.

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