The wreckage of a Victorian ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World war II has been discovered off Mallacoota. The SS Iron Crown was located by the CSIRO, with the help of Heritage Victoria at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

The CSIRO research vessel Investigator identified the shipwreck in over 600 metres of water on 17 April.  The discovery brings the mystery of the ship’s location to an end as well as providing some closure for the families of the 38 crew who perished when it was torpedoed on 4 June 1942.

Heritage Victoria’s Maritime Archaeology team used data gathered by the Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria to narrow down the search.  

The SS Iron Crown was carrying a cargo of manganese ore when it was torpedoed by the Japanese Imperial Navy’s Eastern Attack group, which was also involved in the Pearl Harbour attack.

The ship sank within 60 seconds. Five crew members survived by grabbing life jackets and jumping clear of the sinking ship. They then clung to wreckage until they were rescued.

Peter Harvey is DELWP’s Senior Maritime Archaeologist and says the sinking of the SS Iron Crown is one of Victoria’s four World War II shipwrecks.

“It’s also one of the state’s worst shipwrecks in terms of lives lost," he said.

“The story of the SS Iron Crew is a reminder to all of us of just how close the war came and of the naval and merchant seamen killed in Australian waters during World War II."

Page last updated: 27/07/20