The Meeting Place

WWII shipwreck discovered

After being lost for 77 years, an Australian freighter sunk by a Japanese submarine during World War II has been located by maritime archaeologists using CSIRO research vessel the Investigator.

The SS Iron Crown, a 100m long ore freighter, was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 4 June 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," Mr 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."

The wreck was located about 100km off the Victorian coastline south of the border with NSW

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.

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.


Tasmanian man George Fisher worked on the Iron Crown as a deck boy when he was 18, and was one of the five survivors.

He was the last surviving crew member before his death in 2012.


R.I.P the crew of SS Iron Crown. You served your country well.

I hadn't realised that Jap subs had worked so far south during the war.  Mind you, I was only 4 at the time.  


They are men who go down to the sea in ships,
With courage and faith serene,
Sailing with cargoes on hazardous trips
To the distant battle scene.

In the far-flung theatres of war,
Our allied soldiers pray
That merchant ships with new supplies
Are speeding on their way.

On perilous seas our merchant men
Grimly await their fate.
Silent and tense, their only hope
They will not arrive too late.

Exposed to bombs from the open sky,
And torpedoes hurled through the sea,
Over all the wide sea lanes they sail
In sight of the enemy.

Adrift on rafts, in the lonely seas,
They watch their shipmates die,
Yet fearlessly they carry on,
"Keep 'Em Sailing" is their cry.

They linger not in foreign ports,
But hurry back for more,
No martial music heralds them
As they step upon our shore.

For them there are no big parades,
No heroes' welcome ,
No uniforms, and no applause
To cheer them on their way.

But they are heroes, too, these men
Who sail the seven seas,
Our hats are off to their valiant crews,
For unsung victories.

They are the men who go down to the sea in ships,
With courage and faith serene,
"God Speed You All" is the prayer on our lips,
For the Men of the Merchant Marine.


I'm not a poetry man myself, but that's a good one Huskie.

Wish I had that yesterday to read to some diggers we took for drinks.