On the evening of 18 November 1865, SS Penola rammed into SS City of Launceston. The prow of the Penola is still embedded in the starboard side of the City of Launceston's hull. Fortunately, the prow of the Penola broke off, and watertight hatches kept her afloat. All of the City of Launceston's passengers and crew were rescued by the Penola, before the City of Launceston went to the bottom in 22 metres. SS City of Launceston was the first shipwreck to be declared an Historic Shipwreck under Victorian legislation.

This was my first boat dive with the RMIT Underwater Club. Seven of us went to dive on the City of Launceston, as permits had been issued to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. We were supposed to dive in November 2015, but weather conditions at the time scrubbed that dive, so we were fortunate to have another opportunity in January. We staggered our dives, to have as few people on the wreck at any one time, both because of the silty conditions, and also because of the need to have someone on board to drive the boat (we weren't allowed to anchor at the wreck site). Denis and I were diving last, so I lent my mask to one of the earlier divers after he lost his over the side, and I finished up diving with Hilary's  mask, with a strap that was too loose for me (the mask came off when I went into the water, and felt like it was going to come off several times during the dive - I should have checked and tightened the strap before I went into the water). As it turns out, when we reached the bottom I found the missing mask in only a few seconds. Visibility wasn't fantastic, but the wreck was great. The lifting aparatus used during the attempt to refloat her is still on the deck, the galley is easy to see, there are still bottles just sitting on the deck, and the prow of SS Penola still protrudes from the hull. Denis tells me that the superstructure has collapsed since he was there 10 years ago, but she is still a very impressive wreck.

About 9 pm, incoming SS Penola ( 500 tons) struck and ran down City of Launceston which began to settle almost immediately. Passengers and crew transferred with difficulty to Penola. Sunken vessel valued at about 17,000 pounds - not insured. Sold by auction to Barrett, engineer of City of Launceston, who sold to a syndicate but salvage attempts eventually abandoned. Victorian Steam Navigation Board Inquiry held City of Launceston to blame for accident. Two separate Supreme Court actions by the respective owners for damages found in favour of the plaintiff in each case! An appeal by the aggrieved owner of the Penola for a non suit or a new trial was ultimately refused. Eleutheria, lighter, exhibited light at wreck site until it too sank. City of Launceston was the first shipwreck to be declared an Historic Shipwreck under new Victorian legislation. Built for the Melbourne to Launceston Bass Strait run, it was a regular trader across Bass Strait. - See more at: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/shipwrecks/124#sthash.aPC0R645.dpuf
About 9 pm, incoming SS Penola ( 500 tons) struck and ran down City of Launceston which began to settle almost immediately. Passengers and crew transferred with difficulty to Penola. Sunken vessel valued at about 17,000 pounds - not insured. Sold by auction to Barrett, engineer of City of Launceston, who sold to a syndicate but salvage attempts eventually abandoned. Victorian Steam Navigation Board Inquiry held City of Launceston to blame for accident. Two separate Supreme Court actions by the respective owners for damages found in favour of the plaintiff in each case! An appeal by the aggrieved owner of the Penola for a non suit or a new trial was ultimately refused. Eleutheria, lighter, exhibited light at wreck site until it too sank. City of Launceston was the first shipwreck to be declared an Historic Shipwreck under new Victorian legislation. Built for the Melbourne to Launceston Bass Strait run, it was a regular trader across Bass Strait. - See more at: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/shipwrecks/124#sthash.aPC0R645.dpuf

Divers: Peter Batchelor, Denis Gnaden

Weather/Sea: Calm.
visibility: 5 metres.
Water temperature: 21°C.
Maximum depth: 20.7 metres.
Time of entry: 11:17.
Duration: 37 minutes.

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