SYDNEY, April 23 (Xinhua) -- For almost eight decades, the final resting place of the SS Iron Crown has remained one of the great Australian maritime mysteries.
But on Tuesday, Australia's peak science body the CSIRO, along with the Australian National Maritime Museum have finally uncovered the watery grave of the ill-fated ore ship.
Sunk by a Japanese submarine while traveling through Bass Strait during World War II, the 100-meter-long cargo ship was hit with a torpedo on June 4, 1942.
Taking just one minute for the vessel to sink, dozens of sailors were killed, making it the State of Victoria's worst-ever maritime tragedy.
"The Iron Crown is historically significant as one of only four World War II shipwrecks in Victorian waters and is the only ship to have been torpedoed by a submarine in Victorian waters," maritime archaeologist with Heritage Victoria Peter Harvey said.
"There were 43 crew from the Australian Merchant Navy on board the ship and 38 lost their lives in the attack," Harvey said.
"Locating the wreck after 77 years of not knowing its final resting place will bring closure for relatives and family of those that were lost at sea, as well as for Australia's maritime community," Harvey said.
Discovered using state-of-the-art "multibeam sonar equipment and a special drop camera" on-board the CSIRO research vessel Investigator, the lost ship was found around 100 km off the Victorian coastline, near the New South Wales State border.
"The wreck of Iron Crown appears to be relatively intact and the ship is sitting upright on the seafloor in about 700 meters of water," Voyage Chief Scientist from the Australian National Maritime Museum Emily Jateff said.
"We have mapped the site and surrounding seafloor using sonar but have also taken a lot of close-up vision of the ship structure using a drop camera," Jateff said.
"This will allow us to create a composite image of the whole site to assist in follow up surveys for its conservation and management," Jateff said.
While the discovery of the wreck is a major triumph for Australian marine researchers, Jateff said the excitement was also coupled with sadness.
"This is an important discovery for Australia and all on board feel honored to have been involved in this successful search," she said.
"The fact that so many lives were lost in the sinking of Iron Crown was something that hit home with all scientists, staff and ship crew working on board Investigator," she said.
The State of Victoria and the Australian Government are now planning a memorial service to mark the discovery of the SS Iron Crown and to honor those on-board.