Wreckage of Australian freighter sunk during WWII found off Victoria

Iron Crown Image: National Library of Australia Iron Crown

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

Iron Crown, a 100-metre-long ore freighter, was sunk by Japanese submarine I-27 on June 4, 1942, while traveling 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 along with 38 of the ship’s 43 Australian Merchant Navy crewmembers.

The ship was located using multibeam sonar equipment and a special drop camera on the CSIRO research vessel Investigator.

The drop camera will allow the expedition team to create a composite image of the wreck site and the ship itself to assist in follow-up surveys for conservation and management, according to voyage chief scientist Emily Jateff.

The wreck was located about 100 kilometres off the Victorian coastline south of the border with New South Wales.

Iron Crown was discovered “relatively intact” and sitting upright on the seafloor at a depth of about 700 metres, Jateff adds.

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.

Identifying the location of the wreck has also involved many hours of prior survey work from volunteers of Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria.

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