Shipwrecks of Homebush Bay

Shipwrecks at Homebush Bay
Shipwrecks at Homebush Bay. Photo: Cathy Jones.

There are a number of shipwrecks still visible in Homebush Bay, including the wrecks of colliers Ayrfield and Mortlake Bank, the tug Heroic, the steel broom defence vessel HMAS Karangi and several barges, dredges and lighters. The wrecks are the remnants of the former use of Homebush Bay as a ship-breaking yard. The wrecks can be viewed from the shore from Bennelong Road at Homebush Bay and Bicentennial Park.

HMAS Karangi was built at the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Ltd in Sydney and launched in 1941. It was one of the four boom working vessels, including the Kangaroo, Koala, Kookaburra and Karangi built at Cockatoo Island during the WWII for the Royal Australian Navy. All four ships assisted in laying defence of Darwin and were there for the first Japanese bombing raid on 19 February 1942. HMAS Karangi was stationed at Darwin until 1943 and in the 1950’s, it was present at the British atomic tests at the Monte Bello Islands. The ship was partially scrapped in 1966 and the remains removed to Homebush Bay for breaking up.

The SS Heroic was a tugboat built in the UK in 1909 and during WWI was commanded by the British Admiralty, renamed the Epic and engaged in rescue work off the Scilly Isles. During WWII, it towed the Allara back to Sydney after that ship was torpedoed off Sydney. Its remains are now located alongside the HMAS Karangi, close to mangroves near Bicentennial Park.

The SS Mortlake Bank was built in the UK in 1924 and bought to Australia in 1934 where it operated between Hexham and Mortlake, transporting coal to the Mortlake Gasworks of the Australian Gas Light [AGL] Company. The SS Ayrfield [originally the SS Corrimal] was built in the UK in 1911 and purchased by the Commonwealth Government and used to transport supplies to American troops stationed in the Pacific region during WWII.

Reference

Blaxell, G (2004), The River: Sydney Cove to Parramatta

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