World War II Shipwreck of the SS Iron Crown Discovered

The shipwreck of the Australian World War II freighter, SS Iron Crown, has been discovered 77 years after it was sunk in a deadly Japanese submarine attack. She was discovered by maritime archaeologists using CSIRO research vessel Investigator.

It’s another historic find made by the CSIRO research vessel Investigator, which has discovered a number of historic shipwrecks in the past years. Just two years ago, the Investigator vessel and its team managed to solve a 74-year mystery in 2017 when it located the wreck of SS Macumba, an Australian merchant ship sunk in World War II during a Japanese air attack in Northern Territory waters.

The shipwreck of the SS Iron Crown, a 100m long ore freighter, was located using multibeam sonar equipment and a special drop camera. Voyage Chief Scientist, Emily Jateff from the Australian National Maritime Museum, stated that the wreck was located about 100km off the Victorian coastline south of the border with New South Wales.

The SS Iron Crown alongside SS Hagen
The SS Iron Crown alongside SS Hagen (Credits: Australian National Maritime Museum)

The SS Iron Crown, under command of Capt. A. McLellan, was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-24 on 4 June 1942 while travelling through Bass Strait with a cargo of manganese ore. The heavily loaded freighter was hit by a torpedo from the submarine on the port side, causing a large explosion, and sank within 60 seconds.

38 of the 43 men seamen lost their lives. According to “Most of the men were trapped in the forecastle or were sucked down by the rapidly sinking vessel, with only five survivors managing to jump clear of the ship in hastily grabbed lifejackets and who clung to floating wreckage until they were rescued.”