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Century-old mystery of lost ship solved by accidental discovery

The 120-year-old mystery of the lost SS Nemesis has been solved with the accidental discovery of the missing ship in waters south of Sydney.

The 73-metre-long vessel departed Newcastle on July 9 in 1904, with 32 crew members and loaded with coal destined for Melbourne.

It was last seen in distress in rough seas off Wollongong by another ship also caught in the storm.

The SS Nemesis departed Newcastle on July 9 in 1904 with 32 crew members. (Supplied)


In the weeks that came, bodies of crew members and fragments of the ship washed ashore at Cronulla Beach but the vessel was never found – until now.

The NSW government today announced remote sensing company Subsea Professional Marine Services stumbled across the wreck in 2022 while trying to locate cargo containers lost off the coast of Sydney.

The ship was found undisturbed about 26 kilometres off Port Kembla in Wollongong and approximately 160 metres underwater.

Heritage experts immediately suspected it was the SS Nemesis but were unable to confirm its identity until further underwater imagery was captured by CSIRO.

That vision also revealed why the ship sank that night. It is believed the engine became overwhelmed in the storm and went down quickly once it was hit by a large wave.

CSIRO captured additional imagery of the shipwreck, confirming its identity. (Supplied)


The state government is now hoping to connect with the relatives of the crew members, including three men buried in an unmarked grave in Woronora Memorial Park at Sutherland.

The crew were from Australia and the United Kingdom, with one from Canada.

Those with a connection to SS Nemesis are asked to contact Heritage NSW at


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