Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Archaeologists find Gallipoli medical staff ship


April 25, 2005

A Melbourne-based group of amateur archaeologists has found the resting place of a ship which took medical staff to Gallipoli and brought wounded and returned soldiers back to Australia.

The wreck of the Kanowna was found on Saturday, about 50 kilometres out into Bass Strait.

The ship hit a rock and sank off south-east Victoria's Wilson's Promontory in 1929.

Greg Hodge from the Southern Ocean Exploration group says he hopes the find adds to this year's Anzac Day commemorations.

"There's a lot of people who probably put a lot of work into her and served on her and supported our troops and our troops coming home...I guess what I'm feeling is that there's a bit of closure for some people that they know where she finally is now," he said.

Mr Hodge says he was thrilled the 18 month search resulted in the find just in time for Anzac Day.

Ship History
W. Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton Scotland built the 6,993-ton twin screw TSS Kanowna in 1902. The ship was owned and operated by the Australian United Steam Navigation Company on the Fremantle-Sydney route. The ship was requisitioned as a troop transport on 8 August 1914 and embarked troops for New Guinea. Commonwealth control ended 21 August 1914.

The TSS Kanowna was requisitioned again 1 June 1915 and proceeded to England where she was converted to a hospital ship with accommodation for 452 patients. For the next three years she transported sick and wounded between England and Australia as HMAS KANOWNA.

The ship was returned to the Australian United Steam Navigation Company on 29 July 1919 and resumed service as a passenger and general cargo liner. Steaming between Sydney and Melbourne, she ran on to rocks in foggy weather near Cleft Island (Skull Rock) south of Wilson’s Promontory on 18th February 1929. Boats were immediately lowered and passengers were transferred to SS Mackarra.

It was first thought that the vessel could be saved, but owing to her boiler fires being extinguished she could not be beached. After remaining afloat for several hours, she sank the following morning. The steamship Dumosa also attended the site and took aboard the Kanowna’s officers and men.

A Court of Inquiry found the Master had committed an error of judgment and should have slowed his vessel in the fog. The Kanowna is likely to lie in 80msw.

Source: Southern Ocean Exploration.


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