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Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Inside Port Phillip Marine Park - No Fishing Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site Slack Water Wreck Dive Site

Steamer | Max Depth: 9 metres (30 feet)

Depth: 3 metres (9.8 feet) to 9 metres (30 feet)

Level: Open Water and beyond.

The SS Campbell was on a voyage from Sydney to Melbourne on 23 August 1949 when the steering failed and the vessel struck Corsair Rock attempting to enter Port Phillip. The Campbell shipwreck lies at the extreme western end of the Nepean Reef dive site, under and just to the north of Campbell Rock.

The Campbell was a steel screw steam-powered whaling vessel, 135 tons gross with the dimensions 98.3 x 19.1 x 11.4 feet (30 x 5.8 x 3.5 metres). Built in 1911 by Nylands Voerkstad of Christiana, Norway, it had a single deck, six compartments and used water ballast . The three cylinders of its triple-expansion steam-engine, also made by Nylands Voerkstad, had the measurements of 11.5, 18.5 and 31 inches with a 22-inch stroke, producing 63 nominal horsepower (indicated horsepower 370). It was owned by Kristian, Nielsen & Co. of Laurvig, managed by agents C. Monsen & Co. and was registered to the port of Tonsberg, Norway.

On her final voyage, commanded by its master Olle Olsen, and with eight crew, the Campbell had left Sydney for Albany with its sister ship the Sorrel. At night, in moderate weather but with a heavy sea, they were still in convoy when engine trouble 15 miles off the Heads made Captain Olsen decide to make for Melbourne for repairs. With no pilot, though in the correct channel, the Campbell was steaming through the Heads at eight knots when the current in the Rip set the vessel off course. It was headed for Point Nepean and, seeing white water, Captain Olsen immediately ordered full speed astern when a large wave swept the vessel on to the reef. With large waves crashing over the decks, the crew at first attempted to launch the ship's lifeboat, but this proved impossible. Launching a small dinghy known as a pram by Norwegians, five crew had embarked when a large wave crushed it against the side of the hull of the whaler, staving it in. The crew on deck watched helplessly as their shipmates were swept into the darkness by a current. The remaining four crew then attempted again to launch the lifeboat, and this time a wave assisted their efforts by washing the boat off the deck. They began searching for their crewmates, believing they were in the water after the pram had been wrecked. After three hours of searching they were unsuccessful and, at daybreak, were eventually picked up by the pilot steamer Alvina and landed at Queenscliff.

Meanwhile, the crew in the pram had taken off most of their articles of clothing to plug up the holes in the boat and had returned to the wreck to pick up their crewmates, when they saw the lifeboat swept off the deck. They tried to come in on the back beach down the coast but were unable to get ashore due to the large surf, eventually making it to the Queenscliff pier in an exhausted state. Captain Olsen was to say later that it was amazing that no one had drowned; the only death was that of his beloved terrier. He also criticised the officer at the Queenscliff fort who would not let his scantily dressed and shivering sailors in, believing as they could not speak English they were foreigners endeavouring to enter the fort surreptitiously.

See also, Australian National Shipwreck Database: SS Campbell, and
Heritage Council Victoria: SS Campbell.

This site lies in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. The park is made up of six separate marine areas around the southern end of Port Phillip: Swan Bay, Mud Islands, Point Lonsdale, Point Nepean, Popes Eye, and Portsea Hole.

See also, Parks Victoria: Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park,
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park - Map (PDF 1.4 MB),
Divers Guide - Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park (Adobe PDF | 6.54 MB), and
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park Identification Booklet (Adobe PDF | 5.64 MB).

The GPS Marks for this dive site are known to not be accurate.

Latitude: 38° 18.000′ S   (38.3° S / 38° 18′ S)
Longitude: 144° 38.400′ E   (144.64° E / 144° 38′ 24″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2020-05-17 05:28:26 GMT, Last updated: 2020-05-17 06:12:13 GMT
Source: Australian National Shipwreck Database
Nearest Neighbour: Trimix Corner, 82 m, bearing 241°, WSW
Steamer, 135 ton.
Sunk: 13 June 1914.
Depth: 3 to 9 m.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

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