120th Anniversary of SS Nemesis Shipwreck Memorial

After 120 years, relatives have gathered at the wreck site of SS Nemesis off the coast of Port Kembla to honour and remember the 32 lives lost when the steamship vanished in 1904.

Dr Brad Duncan, Senior Assessments Officer, Heritage NSW, wearing name tag, talking while on a boat at sea

Loaded with coal, the 73-metre-long steamship Nemesis departed Newcastle for Melbourne when it was last sighted in rough seas off Wollongong on 9 July 1904.

The wreck lay undisturbed approximately 160 metres underwater for more than a century until it was discovered by remote sensing company Subsea Professional Marine Services and reported in 2022.

Underwater imagery provided by Subsea Professional Marine Services and from an investigation conducted by CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator revealed not only the first glimpse of the ship in almost 120 years, but also the invaluable data and vision needed for Heritage NSW to confirm the identity of the wreck.

In February this year, following the confirmation of the wreck's identity, 24 representatives of relatives answered a call for anyone connected to Nemesis to come forward.

Twenty-three relatives representing four of the original crew members attended the memorial event, allowing them to pay tribute to those that sadly perished. The memorial event on the 120th anniversary of SS Nemesis' disappearance brings a heartfelt conclusion to this chapter of New South Wales's maritime history.

To coincide with the anniversary, Heritage NSW commissioned Curtin University HIVE to create a digital 3D model from CSIRO's Marine National Facility's underwater footage. This model will allow the community to explore the remarkable underwater site and our maritime archaeologists to examine the wreck site further. The ongoing investigation is supported by the Australian Underwater Cultural Heritage Program.

Quotes attributable to Sam Kidman, Executive Director Heritage NSW:

'On the 120th anniversary of its disappearance, we honour the memory of the 32 lives that were lost with SS Nemesis.'

'We are incredibly grateful to the relatives who came forward, providing personal stories and connections that have further enriched our understanding of this maritime disaster.

'This memorial event not only commemorates the lives lost, but also brings a long-awaited sense of closure to the families and descendants.'

Quotes attributable to Toni Moate, Director of the CSIRO Marine National Facility:

'As Australia's national science agency and the operator of research vessel Investigator, CSIRO is honoured to be able to assist our maritime heritage community in uncovering and protecting the nation's maritime history.'

'We hope the discovery of the resting place of SS Nemesis helps bring closure for the families and descendants of those who were lost in this tragedy.'

Images and video footage available: Dropbox

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