In July of 1904, the good ship SS Nemesis was transporting a shipment of coal to Melbourne, Australia. A storm caught the ship, sinking it, with only the bodies of the 32 crew members and some broken spars from the vessel washing up on shore. The location of the ship was unknown until recently. Let’s see how they found it.

Sunken Ship Container Salvage Is a Good Business

Every year, hundreds of containers fall off ships or are lost because of storms. Recovering these sunken containers could be very valuable for a boat and its crew.

Source: Yahoo

Salvage crews usually have an underwater sonar to help them locate the containers, but one of them found more than they bargained for when the massive bulk of a sunken ship showed up on their sonar.

A Surprising Find

When the crew of the salvage ship went down to find out what they had spotted, it turned out to be something that they never expected. Lying under the waves was the wreck of the SS Nemesis.

Source: Flotilla Australia

More than a century after it was sunk, the ship was located and identified. Government officials declared the 120-year-old mystery solved in a press release.

Many Stories Surround the SS Nemesis

Because of the circumstances surrounding its sinking, many people have had their own theories as to why or how the ship sank. Colorful stories surround this maritime disaster coming from those on shore.

Source: Flickr/Gregory Varnum

However, the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The ship was found with all its lifeboats still unused. What could have caused all the people on board to go down with the ship?

Deep Underwater

The sunken wreck was discovered some 525 feet underwater. The salvage ship that found her was sixteen miles offshore when the shadow showed up on its sonar.

Source: Flickr/jeff

The salvage ship originally located the SS Nemesis remains in 2022, but the boat remained unidentified for a while. It was only after government officials suspected it may be the SS Nemesis that research started.

Confirmed In 2023

While officials thought this might have been the remains of the SS Nemesis, they didn’t have the means to prove it conclusively for a while. Underwater imagery captured by CSIRO helped with the identification.

Source: Flickr/NOAA’s National Ocean Service

Using a research ship called the RV Investigator carrying multibeam sonar locators, the CSIRO was able to collect high-resolution images of the vessel settled on the sea floor.

Found Resting Upright On the Sand

While it’s unclear how the vessel went down, the high-resolution image caught the ship’s remains resting upright on the sandy plain where it finally came to rest.

Source: Flickr/Daniel Fleming

The ship was severely weathered from being stuck underwater for over a century. However, there were still enough recognizable structures on it so that the CSIRO could make a positive determination.

Close-Up Survey Done For Clues

How did the SS Nemesis sink? Since all of the 32 hands on board died the night the ship went to its grave, there’s no one that researchers could ask about the fate of the vessel. However, there could be clues in the wreck.

Source: Flickr/Auntie P

A close-up survey was done on the exposed part of the ship to determine how the ship sunk. Aside from two of the ship’s anchors lying on the sandy plain nearby, the researchers also found some damning evidence.

Dragged To The Depths Under a Wave

According to the researchers’ findings, the SS Nemesis was most likely struck by an oversized wave off the coast of Wollongong. The wave was due to the rough sea conditions at the time.

Source: Flickr/chausinho

Once the ship was hit, the wave overwhelmed the engines, and the vessel encountered difficulties. Researchers estimate that the ship sank so quickly that no one could get on the lifeboats.

Giving Families The Bad News

The SS Nemesis had a multinational crew, with sailors from far-flung places such as Britain, Canada, and Australia. The NSW Minister for Environment and Heritage, Penny Sharpe, says that she would like to inform the families about the deaths of their loved ones.

Source: Flickr/stanze

According to officials, over forty children lost family members in the sinking of the SS Nemesis. Letting them know about the final fate of their loved ones would bring closure.

A 3D Video Of the Wreck

After the wreck was found and verified, what happens to the high-resolution images collected by the CSIRO? The wreck itself is still a very useful thing, especially for those researching maritime disasters.

Source: Flickr/Rob Blatt

The CSIRO noted that they will “stitch” the video together into a 3D interactive video of the wreck. This video seeks to help others understand the ship’s final moments and offer further insights into the wreck.

Solving a Compelling Mystery

Collaborating with CSIRO and Subsea, Heritage NSW utilized modern techniques and historical archives to unveil the conclusive saga of SS Nemesis. This partnership marked the culmination of efforts to solve one of Sydney’s most compelling maritime mysteries.

Source: Flickr/Peter Taylor

Modern methodologies and archival resources were harnessed in this collaborative endeavor to illuminate the final chapter of SS Nemesis’ tale, solidifying its status as an enduring story in Sydney’s maritime history.

Over 200 Wrecks Still Undiscovered

Sydney is a well-known port and has been one of Australia’s most popular ports of call for over a century. Despite this, storms near the port’s coast have claimed hundreds of ships as casualties.

Source: Flickr/Jon Connell

Currently, there are over two hundred wrecks of ships off the coast of Sydney. So far, only half of them have been discovered and cataloged, leaving a massive amount still hidden beneath the waves.

Putting The Mystery to Rest

High-definition underwater video and recreations using multibeam echosounders show just how far technology has come since the early days of underwater research. Today, we can get a perfectly rendered 3D video of the ocean’s surface from these tools, giving us clues as to how a ship like this sank.

Source: Flickr/Brecht Bug

With more than a hundred other missing ships to be found off the coast of Sydney, it’s only a matter of time before someone else finds the remains of another ship that requires these research skills to uncover the mystery of how the vessel went to the depths.