Chance find of '34 Strait shipwreck

Divers Martin Tozer and Mark Ryan were part of the crew who found the TSS Coramba south of Phillip Island

From Mornington Peninsula Leader

It was a calm, overcast day with little wind when a team of divers plunged into Bass Strait before descending 62m and shining the beams of their torches upon a ship lost almost 80 years ago.

Those conditions were a far cry from the extreme, wild weather that caused the 160ft turbine steamer the TSS Coramba to go down in November 1934, taking with it the lives of the 17 men on board.

Mt Martha diver Mark Ryan said he and other Southern Ocean Exploration divers had been searching for another wreck south of Phillip Island when they happened upon the much larger bounty, with a dive on May 29 confirming it as the Coramba.

“We identified it by the fact it had twin propellers (as) there was nothing else out there that had two propellers,” he said.

“That was our Eureka moment.”

Mr Ryan said the ship - which sank 10km southeast of Flinders - was in relatively good condition, but with a badly damaged front end after possibly being smashed by a freak wave.

He said Des Williams - who had searched for the wreck for 30 years and written a book about it - was on board that day and said they all felt emotional and relieved at finally locating the ship.

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