Maritime news archive, 2010
Australian Underwater Cultural Heritage Intergovernmental Agreement | 15 December 2010
An agreement that establishes roles and responsibilities for the identification, protection, management, conservation and interpretation of Australia's underwater cultural heritage has been released.
For more information see: Australian Underwater Cultural heritage Intergovernmental Agreement
NSW shipwreck heritage program, Wreck Spotters, opens up to community involvement | 13 December 2010
The Wreck Spotters program has been relaunched to assist in the identification, mapping and promotion of shipwreck sites in NSW. Anyone with an interest in shipwrecks and underwater heritage is invited to join the program, to work alongside maritime archaeologists in documenting known historic shipwreck sites, spotting any changes to existing wrecks, and in detecting and reporting new finds.
For more information see: Media release
A joint volunteer Australia-Turkish team have recently completed the first scientific survey of the 95 year-old underwater battlefield.
Divers survey a barge submerged at ANZAC Cover.
Credit: Mark Spencer
Project Beneath Gallipoli returned from Turkey in June 2010 after an extremely successful expedition. The joint volunteer Australia-Turkish team, headed by Heritage Branch Deputy Director Tim Smith, undertook the first scientific survey of the 95 year-old underwater battlefield.
A comprehensive sidescan sonar survey was completed of waters adjacent to Brighton Beach, ANZAC Cove, North Beach, and the entire area of Suvla Bay to the north. The survey revealed at least three new shipwrecks - barges used during the campaign and possible other rubbish dump sites and moorings that await further diving and inspection. Work at ANZAC Cove involved the detailed survey of all visible relics associated with the former piers and jetties, and lead balls from devastating Turkish shrapnel shells. The team mapped several previously located wrecks and documented them in detail for the first time.
The work also lead to the re-identification of one wreck inside Suvla Bay as that of the British destroyer HMS Louis, lost in October 1915, and the inspection of several pontoon barges identified as the remains of the Royal Australian Navy Bridging Train's bridge-building pontoons at Suvla. The extensive seabed sonar survey work was undertaken by Selcuk Kolay AO, discoverer of Australia's submarine AE2 in the Dardanelles in 1998.
The shipwreck inspection work built on the previous film study by expedition member Savas Karakas, Turkish diver and filmmaker. The expedition has shown that the underwater battlefield has not been fully revealed and that there are more key archaeological sites that await discovery, identification and proper mapping. All work was undertaken under permit issued by the Government of the Republic of Turkey and was in keeping with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001.
In January 2010, following a report that stolen objects from a shipwreck were hidden in a backyard, the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts with the assistance of West Australian (WA) Police, recovered more than 1,400 silver coins. These coins are believed to have sunk with the Zuytdorp in 1712, north of Geraldton, off the WA Coast.
The Zuytdorp is one of four Dutch East India ships known to be shipwrecked along the WA coast. There were no known survivors from the Zuytdorp, which had a rich cargo that included about 250,000 guilders. The seized coins were handed to the WA Museum to be added to their maritime research collection.
The department is now investigating the circumstances that saw the coins removed from the shipwreck site.
With funding provided by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, the AHS Centaur was located by Bluewater Recoveries and Williamson and Associates on 20 December 2009. The shipwreck remains were subsequently confirmed through underwater photography. To protect the shipwreck and the associated maritime military and civilian graves a protected zone was declared around the wreck site under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. The protected zone was declared by the then Acting Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Penny Wong on 14 January 2010. On 11 January 2010 a memorial plaque was placed on the site for the 2/3 AHS Centaur Association. A memorial in Brisbane will be held at a date to be confirmed.
In December 2009 the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANNMM) announced that a ship's cannon and rudder gudgeon had been found embedded in a reef off North Queensland. These artefacts are thought to belong to the Cato, which sank after running aground in 1803 on the way to India. Cato was protected under the Historic Shipwreck Act 1976 in 1990. Divers discovered the cannon in 1986 and reported their find to the Commonwealth Historic Shipwreck Delegate in Queensland.
The discovery of the gudgeon will assist in confirming the positive identification of the Cato site without disturbance to the main deposit.
The 450-tonne vessel Cato and HMS Porpoise were wrecked after hitting an uncharted coral reef at midnight on August 17, 1803. Three sailors drowned, while the survivors, including Mathew Flinders, made camp on Porpoise Cay.