NSWwrecks.info - Sydney Harbour Wreck SearchSeptember 9 2014
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ROCK ROCK ROCK grrr@#$%^#$!!!!
Got to say that one looked pretty good on interferometric sidescan data
But we sent 2 divers down and waited for a balloon to surface (our messaging system that it's a wreck and typically when others will gear up to do the dive)
After 40 minutes they returned and said it was rock (that looked a lot like a ship right shape sharp edges to the sand but a rock none the less)
So even with all that gear (and someone's still in the water when the shot was taken) no success
Tossing around naming it Independence Reef given the date for the not wreck list
Erika asked for an image from the weekend as we were not too far from where HMAS Swan had sunk we scanned past the vessel
HMAS Swan was a River-class torpedo-boat destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). It entered service in 1916. The early part of the ship's career was spent on blockade duty in the Far East, before she was transferred to the Mediterranean for anti-submarine duty. Apart from performing shore bombardment during the Second Battle of Durazzo, Swan's wartime career was uneventful. The destroyer was placed in reserve in 1920, but was reactivated between 1925 and 1927. Swan was decommissioned in 1928, stripped of parts, and sold for use as prisoner accommodation on the Hawkesbury River. After changing hands several times, the hull sank during gale conditions in 1933.
The image is from a Klein 595 Sidescan with data acquisition through a National Instruments DAQ card. With the data recorded using Seasone Hunter software (*.SNR file but can be exported as an *.XTF) the Side scan was captured using the 500 KHz frequency of the unit with the range set to 50m (so 100m swath 50 meters out each side)
The image is only the Starboard side of the record (eg towfish on the LHS with the scan going out to the right) Dark colours are strong reflections and light colours are the “shadows” or lack or returns
Going from the LHS of the image you see the water column (so the towfish was approx. 12m above the bottom [5m dashed grid lines]) and then approximately 15m away from where the bottom begins you see the bow of the vessel which has had its back broken and the bow deck rolled towards the scan. The last 2/3 of the vessel is upright with holds and structure the lighter colour to the RHS is the shadow cast by the vessel
Fine tuning the system to the boat still need to adjust a few cables so the system can be better positioned for viewing. But the weekend was all about getting the side scan back out on the water on the new boat with a new 200m cable and working out the various small bugs/nuisances
With the new longer cable (200m c/w previous 100m cable) the starboard sides gain (RHS of the computer screen) was a bit too high so we had to tune the system down for that, by the end of the day the 500kHz was running perfectly but the 100kHz was still a little scrappy. Most likely we will need to get off shore (the weather wasn’t right for that this weekend) where we can run some wider ranges (say 200 -300m range / 400m-600m swath) so we can calibrate it better (the river wasn’t that wide)
On the boat out trialing how to set it up on this boat and with the longer cable
A quickly knocked together ply / plastic and all thread - addition to the system to lessen the bend radius on the cable (it needs to be less than 500mm for this Kevlar reinforced tow cable with 5 coax cores and 2 pairs of conductors). Need to prefect it further as it can pick up a harmonic and making an annoying humming sound
Running it in the Hawkesbury River after a couple of weeks of solid rain the water was darker than the coffee we were dinking
The first was a target in about 30 meters of water and came up on the multibeam analysis as a disturbed area of about 25m long by up to 10m wide and only came off the bottom by about 300-400mm
I descended onto a flat sandy bottom with fairly poor visibility (there have been a few storms of late and a fair sea running so there was a fair bit of runoff and a lot of suspended sand lifted off the bottom)
There was a quite distinct collection of obviously manmade objects forming a long cigar shape on the bottom. These objects consisted of a number of pieces of ceramics (plate and some sort of larger "jar" / container) some wire / rope like objects as well as several pieces of obviously "worked" wood and several shaped (square and linear objects) materials. There were a large amount of "non natural" rocks (eg not local geology) that looked like "blue metal" that had regularly been shipped into Sydney from approximately 100km south of Sydney from Kiama for use in construction
After a bit of a swim around the object I saw nothing conclusive that it has come from a ship (eg no anchor etc) and that it is not dumped by some garbage barge sometime in the past, but I do not think it is conclusively a spoil dump of a barge either.
I believe this object will require a bit of further investigation to make a conclusive call on its nature
Have a look at the video (it's nothing fancy just the swim over of the site - sorry its 11 minutes long no cuts) and feel free to postulate
OK it has been a couple of months since I have done any real searching for new shipwrecks (although I have been doing a fair bit of data review of a few different government departments survey work)
Yesterday we went out and dived 4 different potential targets
After a few issues with the Navigation laptop (for some reason Google Earth wouldn't boot up even although it had the night before when checked) we realised nothing was going to go smoothly and we weren't going to get any beautiful bathymetry overlayed with the vessels position onto it (can't win them all)
So with nothing else to do we reverted back to "Old School" pen and paper and entering the waypoints into the boats GPS
So, the first OpenROV deployment of this Expedition happened today in Balmain.
We did 4 or 5 tries to find the structure based on the site scan data just to be interrupted by the Sydney Ferries. That's why you deploy an ROV that you can pull in in the case the ferry comes around and not a diver.
As the exact position from shore is not yet known and the water is rather murky we tried to run some search patterns following the compass headings but sadly, the most exciting thing we found was a deck of cards with a bow and arrow.
A few lessons learned on this deployment:
- Know your compass heading
- if you deploy in a boating channel and you don't want to pull back every time a boat goes by, don't put too many floats on your tether. If the tether sinks to the ground and you are deep enough, let the boat pass
- Stop the screencastify video BEFORE your laptop battery dies - we don't have the screencast :-(
Anyway, a big thanks to Sarah, Scott, Neill and Bryan!
I wan't to go back and have another go now that we have a bit of a better idea!
Overlaid side scan with some multi beam for the same area the collection of objects is a "lump" coming about 400- 500mm above the surrounding bottom (not the best image but when I rotate it on the screen it shows it better)
So two different sources so there must be something there (could also be dredge spoil from a channel widening some time back in history)
PS looks like it is in only 6 or so meters of water
Balmain by the mid 19th century was Sydney’s biggest maritime industrial area, full of boat yards, ship repair companies and shipbuilding yards abounding around the foreshores of Balmain, as well as on Cockatoo Island and neighbouring headlands.
The site we have identified in the side scan is only 35m off the sea wall and located in a park and so should be an ideal place to set up.
BUT the site also lays directly under one of Sydney's main ferry routes with the Balmain East Wharf less than 100meters away (so we will need to keep an eye out for the morning peak hour ferries coming every 30 minutes or so)
Ok getting back to shipwreck matters
We are still keen to get out and check out a few interesting / strange looking anomalies from various previously done surveys
One of the first is this collection of items looking like potentially an old wooden vessel where all of the wooden structure has been eaten away with time
We are also getting a Maritime Archaeologist (Sarah Ward) twitter.com/SarahWardAU to come and assist us when we investigate this site and for her thoughts on what the collection of objects could be
Typical dawns with a super flat ocean after getting up for a 2am watch and spending hours watching a screen it was always a great site seeing the sun come up
(Note the auto pilot we put in whist underway [loose display with the white wire on RHS of image] we found out after 2 days it worked much better after reading the instructions and re mounting the gyro compass in the correct orientation - it was surprisingly good considering it was mounted in the wrong plane)
OK back from 1400 Nmiles (2600km) had a great trip everything went well with a heap of diving (still not sure how many 20 odd?? waiting on my dive computer to get back)
Caught and released a Black Marlin as well as a large Sailfish and dived some exceptional walls were the boat anchor was in 2m of water but the boat was hanging back off the edge and showing 300m on the sounder. I also saw 4 groper about the size of a dinning room table (huge and a little bit intimidating when they charge you to get out of their area)
Great trip would love to do it all again
Anyway still some new wrecks to find
Hi I'm going to be out of contact for about the next 3 weeks as I fly out to Bali on Wednesday to bring a 12m Noosa Cat back from Bali to Darwin (about a 2400km trip). I expect to be doing some great diving over the whole trip and looking forward to trying out the new Hero 4 Silver GoPro
Here's the expected route
A couple of guys I was with when we found the New wreck site are trying to get out there tomorrow (weather dependent) to put a tape across it to try and confirm its identity (we are currently thinking it is a scuttled 27m tug called the Yamba http://bit.ly/ZxSgsM
Hopefully we should also get some stills to do a SfM model of the wreck site
Still celebrating the find with a cool sparkling beverage
Two images of the one target
The image on the LHS was captured on thermal paper in 1982 using a Klein 521 side scan sonar whilst the image on the RHS was captured in 2002 using a Klein 2000 SSS (remember the 2 passes would not be on the same course).
We have been out and sounded over this region and identified a potential lump in 72m of water approximately 6.5km off Sydney Heads
The old pre GPS 1982 location (unknown layback/distance of cable out from the boat to towfish sensor) was determined from bearings to the shore and is about 300 odd meters from the 2002 location, which was about 50m from the sounded location.
/we are intending to dive this target tomorrow. Hoping it proves fruitful
On the same day we also found a modern wreck, Which we have christened "Adam's Wreck" for his first day out looking for wrecks and the effort he put in throwing out and retrieving the shot line all day
It appears to be a modern runabout upside down on the bottom about 4.2m long with an outboard still on the back of the boat pointing to the surface.
It was located between the Sydney Harbour heads in about 18 meters of water
Whilst out yesterday we also found what appears to be an old small/medium sized Admiralty Anchor
It was found at the entrance to Middle Harbour next to Middle Head in approximately 10m of water.
The steel projecting from the sea bottom appears to be the "Arms" of an Admiralty Anchor (about 1500mm sticking out of the sand) where the "shank" of the anchor has broken off and fallen into the sand below
We went out yesterday to clear out a number of targets, I dived 12 targets in about 2 hours ranging in depth from about 23m to 8m showing what a well oiled crew can do.
We found all sorts of weird stuff, some geological, some natural (organic?) and many man made objects which we are still to identify such as this Large Heavy walled Steel object
It was sticking out of the sand by about 600mm and was about 1200mm in diameter and was obviously "robust" and constructed from heavy steel sort of like a old boiler, but not obvious internals
We dived this site again yesterday and in short still no clearer as to what the objects are (and yes, the visibility was worse yesterday than previously)
Thoughts are ranging from a possible wreck site, a possible site of a long gun (either from a vessel or used as ballast or dumped) or a good old fashion garbage heap
Still more investigation need at this site
We are heading back out to the Unidentified (potentially an old wooden vessel wreck) Site with a Maritime Archaeologist tomorrow.
The intent is to run a tape between the 2 sites and then use this as a base for searching (up to around 30m from this centre line) and use pegged flags to mark any other smaller objects and then run lateral lines back to the main tape between the 2 sites.
After this it is hoped (dependent upon water visibility) that we shall do a Structure from Motion, mosaic of the overall site (to develop a site plan post dive), also take images, measure up, and try to identify the individual items found
Here is an image of the South Eastern site where there is a sizable piece of wooden structure leading into the sand
Whist out on Monday checking previously identified potential targets we also dived a pair of target sites approximately 30m apart
The southern site consists a large piece of old shaped and worked wood (about 600mm by 250mm by 6m long) extending into the sea bed
Whist the northern site is a large mound (and an associated hollow) as well as a grouping of man made objects buried beneath the sand including a metal pin typically used in ship building as well as a number of other objects protruding from the sand. This area also has a different bottom (a type of "algal" growth) where away from the site it is back to clean sand
The video bellow has now been seen by a two different Maritime Archaeologists both who suspect that the site may be the site of an old wooden vessel but it is still not conclusive
At this stage it is still to early to sure of exactly what the collection of objects is more diving and exploring to be done at this site/s
As part of the preparation stage, we are conducting a data review hoping to identify potential targets with in the harbour
As part of this review, we have identified numerous potential targets including a feature at Balmain approximately 20m long with a collection of man made looking objects
This is a part of the harbour is full of heavy boat traffic and typically has somewhat poor visibility
Sydney Harbour has been a significant maritime hub for over 200 years with many wrecks contained within its area
We are looking to document many wrecks and potential wreck sites within its bounds
Firstly there is a data collection phase where we review our own side scan sonar records as well as the reinterpretation of others data that had been collected under broad scale hydrographical surveys looking for potential "targets"
Next we intend to dive these targets (either SCUBA or with an OpenROV) to confirm their nature (a wreck/a garbage pile/ a strange bottom anomaly)
For confirmed wreck sites we shall undertake some basic documentation including (dependent on conditions) Structure from Motion documentation of the wrecks site
Similar to the wreck of the Colonist en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonist_(1861) we have previously found and documented