Longshot on Radio this Saturday

You can hear The Project Longshot team live on air this Saturday.

3WBC radio – 94.1 FM has given SOE an hour between 11.00am and 12.00pm to discuss the project.

Mark Ryan from SOE will be talking about SOE’s achievements.

Martin Tozer will be explaining the technical aspects of the search for the first shot.

Terry Cantwell from Whitewater Documentaries will be talking about the potential Longshot documentary and the series “Ghost Divers”, which is in production.

Hope you have time to listen in.






Live Streaming between 11.00-12.00 Saturday March 29, 2014

Coramba: The Final Chapter

On Sunday, September 8,  divers from Southern Ocean Exploration joined relatives of the men who drowned on the TSS Coramba in December 1934 in an emotional service at the site of the Coramba shipwreck.

In December 1934, the Coramba was en-route from Warnambool to Williamstown with a cargo of condensed milk and wool, when Captain John Dowling attempted to find shelter in Westernport.

The ship was no match for the huge seas that also swamped much of the mainland between November 30 and December 2, 1934.

17 men drowned in what was one of Victoria’s worst hurricanes.

The Coramba’s sinking was a huge blow to a state already reeling from a crippling depression. Relatives received little compensation and many children grew up in poverty after losing their family breadwinner.

Shipwreck hunters and maritime archaeologists, Southern Ocean Exploration (SOE) discovered the wreck in May 2011,  after eight years of searching.

Since then many relatives of the 17 men who died on the steamer have contacted the dive team.

SOE leader team leader Mark Ryan felt that his organisation should honour the memory of the victims.

“Our job is to find shipwrecks, but we’re also very much aware that these places are gravesites, where people died in the most horrendous circumstances. Our work is becoming more and more about the relatives.” he said.

John Sullivan, grandson of Able Seaman John Loring Sullivan, attended the memorial onboard SOE’s new search vessel; recently renovated World War 2 patrol boat, Airview.

“This is a very special day for me. My father was only a boy when he lost his father. It would have been terribly difficult for him growing up. Today we placed his ashes next to his father’s resting place. Hopefully my ashes will be placed here after I’m gone” Mr Sullivan said.

SOE researcher and stonemason, Peter Taylor recently made two elegant granite boxes to hold the ashes of John Sullivan and Jack Dowling, son of Coramba Captain John Dowling.

At 12.30pm, SOE divers carefully placed the boxes in the ship’s engine room.

Des Williams, author of two books about the Coramba, represented the Dowling family.

“Over the last 30 years I have come to know the Dowling family very well.  Audrey, the captain’s daughter lives in Adelaide. She’s 91 and couldn’t make it today. Norma Dowling, Jack’s wife also couldn’t make it.” Mr Williams said.

Des Williams spoke about the 17 men who died, before placing a bouquet of flowers on the water.

“Today closes the book on the Coramba story” he said.

Terry Cantwell 


Southern Peninsula News

Mornington Peninsula News

98.7 FM radio interview

Channel 9 News, Sunday, September 22. 6.00pm

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Ghost Divers update

We are pleased to report that our pilot episode – A Drop in the Ocean: The Story of the SS Glenelg – is now finished.

Over the next few months we will be organising screenings and will be in touch.

We have uploaded the first three minutes to whet the appetite.

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The film is currently 39 minutes in duration, which will allow us to edit up for a one hour show, or down for a 30 minute episode.

We would like to thank everyone involved with this project. It has taken a lot longer than expected and we hope everyone will be pleased with the final product.

A Drop in the Ocean will be the second episode in the six-part series, Ghost Divers, about Southern Ocean Exploration’s endeavours to discover as many of the 600 shipwrecks that lie undiscovered off our coast as possible.

Series synopsis

Episode 1  “Plenty more wrecks in the sea”
The story of the SS Cumberland, SS Queensland and SOE’s formation
Mark Ryan’s first wreck discovery teaches him a valuable lesson: his real enemy is not the sea, but bureaucracy.

Episode 2 “A Drop in the Ocean”
The Story of the SS Glenelg (Pilot)
Southern Ocean Exploration’s (SOE) discovery of the 19th century steamer SS Glenelg uncovers a series of harrowing stories of bravery, tragedy and survival. However, the ramifications of their discovery threatens to destroy the team.

Episode 3 “The Deep End”
The story of THE TSS Kanowna
SOE finds a Gallipoli Hospital ship and uncovers a story of alleged insurance fraud. The ship is intact in 260ft of water, but is it too deep to penetrate? What treasures lie within?

Episode 4 “Wreckless”
The story of THE TSS Coramba
SOE’s discovery of the depression-era steamship Coramba unearths a story of incredible bravery and heartbreaking tragedy.

Episode 5 “Losing the Plot”
The story of the SS Alert
A lone sailor speaks from the past to rectify a great injustice.

Episode 6 “Out of sight, out of mind”
The story of the SS Paringa
SOE has discovered something deep in Bass Strait, but is it  the Paringa, a steamer that disappeared into a storm taking 31 men with it? It’s extremely difficult to find shipwrecks, it can be even harder trying to identify them. If this isn’t the Paringa, what is it?

(Concept and scripts registered with Writers Guild America West)

Terry Cantwell

Coramba Presentation updated

Short video about the Coramba discovery created as a Southern Ocean Exploration presentation.

For educational purposes only

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“Action” makes History

By Terry Cantwell

The boat that  discovered Australia’s most searched-for shipwreck has become a historic vessel herself.

Justin McCarthy’s World War Two patrol boat MTB 02-14 Action has just been accepted onto the Australian Register of Historic Vessels.

Action will share this exclusive honour with notable vessels such as the beautiful schooner Alma Doepel, America’s Cup winner Australia 2, and Australia’s oldest surviving sailing vessel, The City of Adelaide.

Built in Brisbane in 1942 for the war effort, Action was one of twelve PT boats deployed by the RAAF as search and rescue vessels in New Guinea. The PT boat came under Japanese fire at Milne Bay, New Guinea as it rescued downed Australian airmen from the seas.

Action continued ceremonial duties after the war, such as carrying Queen Elizabeth across Sydney Harbour in 1953, before being sold into private hands at the Williamstown Yacht Club in 1960.

An Adelaide consortium purchased Action in the late 1970s and in the mid 1990s Action formed the platform for a television documentary about the Murray Darling Basin.

Justin McCarthy, a diver and member of Australia’s most successful independent shipwreck discovery team, Southern Ocean Exploration (SOE), purchased Action earlier this year.

SOE has since been using Justin’s PT boat as its primary search vessel.

In May this year Action discovered the wreck of the TSS Coramba, which sank in Bass Strait in 1934, taking 17 lives.

The Coramba was one of Australia’s most searched for shipwrecks. Its discovery closed a contentious chapter of Australian maritime history.

Justin McCarthy is delighted with his boat’s inclusion in Australia’s pantheon of significant vessels.

“It’s fantastic that she will be recognised for her part in our country’s history. It’s also wonderful that she is still contributing to our national story,” he said.

Other Media

Radio 98.7FM interview

Mornington News

Cranbourne News

Pakenham Gazette




Divers Discover the “Ship that the Sea Swallowed”

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By Terry Cantwell


One of Victoria’s most searched-for shipwrecks has finally been discovered.

Last Sunday (May 29) archaeological divers Southern Ocean Exploration (SOE) discovered the wreck of the TSS Coramba, which sank in Bass Strait in 1934.

The Coramba was en-route from Warnambool to Williamstown with a cargo of condensed milk and wool, when Captain John Dowling attempted to find shelter in Westernport.

The ship was no match for the huge seas that also swamped much of the mainland on Novemebr 30, 1934.

17 men drowned in what was one of Victoria’s worst hurricanes and the wreck’s  whereabouts has remained a mystery until now.

The Coramba’s sinking was a huge blow to a state already reeling from a crippling depression. Relatives received little compensation and many children grew up in poverty after losing their family breadwinner.

Divers have been searching for the wreck for over 70 years. In 1935, legendary salvage diver John Johnstone claimed to have found the wreck near Seal Rocks, Phillip Island: a claim that was accepted by a marine inquiry at the time. However, last week’s discovery places the wreck many miles to the west of Johnstone’s coordinates.

Fairfax/Whitewater video report

The Ship that the Sea Swallowed author and maritime historian, Des Williams has been searching for the Coramba since the 1980s.  “The Coramba has been a big part of my life for the past 35 years. I’ve searched for it on many occasions, written a book about it and have become very close to the families of those who drowned,” he said.

Southern Ocean Exploration has been searching for the wreck for eight years and has surveyed almost 15 square kilometres of Bass Strait. The team’s chief researcher, Peter Taylor, has painstakingly researched all available data. He recently decided to change the search grid on a hunch that team may have been looking in the wrong area. “It’s a great relief. There have many days when we’ve returned from a Coramba search very despondent. This is absolutely wonderful,” Mr Taylor said.

SOE Team Leader Mark Ryan says that the Coramba find is one of SOE’s finest moments. “This is the sweetest find of all. We have discovered nearly a dozen wrecks now, but this one required a special resilience. There were many occasions when we were about to write her off,” he said.

Other Media:

Sunday Age report

Sydney Morning Herald video report

WA Today report

Westernport News Report (pp 18-19)


Mornington Leader report

Hobsons Bay Leader feature about Peter Taylor

Guardian Mildura

Frankston Leader

Hobsons Bay Leader follow-up interview with Norma Dowling.

Brisbane Times Video

Canberra Times Video

Ayrshire Post Scotland

Sunday Business Post Ireland

photos by Brenden Stevenson, Vikki Ryan, Des Williams, Mark Ryan, and Whitewater Documentaries.

Melbourne SS Glenelg Tribute

By Terry Cantwell

Pint on Punt pub, St Kilda. June 19th, 2010.

Almost 100 people attended an emotionally charged tribute evening at the Pint on Punt pub in St Kilda, Melbourne last Saturday to commemorate the victims of the SS Glenelg that sank in Bass Strait 110 years ago.

Representatives of the Boyd, Fyfe, Hatfield Lapthorne, Mauldon and Stephens families attended, along with almost the entire Southern Ocean Exploration dive and research team.

Many of those attending hadn’t met before, but all were united in a determination to see their relatives’ sacrifices recognised after 110 years.

The evening began with a short video tribute to the Glenelg victims. (takes a while to load – put on the kettle!)

This was followed by an introduction to the divers and a presentation by Southern Ocean Exploration leader, Mark Ryan about his team’s work.

SOE researcher and diver Martin Tozer then presented an underwater video detailing the wreck’s current condition.

Gordon Fyfe, great grandson of Chief Engineer David Fyfe, gave a moving speech about the deep impact this discovery has had for him and his family.

Essendon FC Director Beverly Knight, who lost three Stephens family ancestors and their close family friend on the Glenelg, closed the presentations with a rousing speech about her excitement for the project.

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The event was extremely successful and indicated to us that we are on the right track with the style and form of our documentary.

As the film evolves, we realise that a large community is emerging that wants the Glenelg victims to be recognised. The purpose of the gathering was to introduce relatives of those who perished on the Glenelg over 100 years ago to the divers who discovered the wreck last June.

We’d like to thank all those people previously mentioned as well as Mick Whitmore for his underwater footage and Evan, Sean and Gareth from the Pint of Punt for allowing us to thrash their great pub!

What was meant to be a short afternoon presentation, turned into a big night; with the last people leaving after midnight.

Terry Cantwell

Media about the Glenelg discovery

Glenelg discovered Canberra Times

Channel 9 News

Westernport News