Shipwreck Hunting

by Neill Wainwright March 04, 2015

We had an expedition today to hunt for an undocumented object in Sydney harbor.

The object was identified from a large data set of high resolution side scan imagery that was reviewed by NSW Wrecks. It appears to identify what may be a previously undocumented old timber ship approximately 28m long.

The issue with diving on this particular site is that it is near a commercial ferry terminal so it is unsafe to use SCUBA. So we used an open source ROV.

As you can imagine it is very difficult to navigate a small robot around the harbor using its internal compass to find the target site but we plan to come back soon possibly with a GPS module fitted to the ROV to help us better place it over the target site before diving. I will update this post again when we find it!



Overlaid side scan with some multi beam for the same area. The collection of objects is a "lump" coming about 400- 500mm above the surrounding bottom 


Tide chart, early start to get the high tide. I finally got to see what 7am looks like!


This is the ROV we used, it is a low cost community built design



The ROV and its pilot Dominik Fretz



Our team (left to right)


Sarah Ward - Marine Archaeologist

Dominik Fretz - Open ROV programmer and pilot 

Neill Wainwright - General nuisance 

Scott - NSW Wrecks and ROV navigator 



This is the view from the ROV cockpit showing its instrumentation (this was taken on another dive, we lost the camera data from today due to the laptop shutting down mid dive!) The cockpit shows the operator the heading, readouts from the various instruments, depth, power levels, light control, scaling laser control and has an artificial horizon line to help keep it level in the water. 

Neill Wainwright
Neill Wainwright


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