SS Alert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SS Alert 1882.jpg
SS Alert
Name: Alert
Owner: Huddart Parker
Port of registry: Melbourne, Australia
Builder: Robert Duncan & Co., Port Glasgow
Launched: 1877
Identification: Official number: 76169
Fate: Sunk, 28 December 1893
General characteristics [1]
Type: Steamship
Tonnage: 243 tons[2]
Length: 169 ft (52 m)
Beam: 19 ft 6 in (5.94 m)
Depth: 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Propulsion: Rankin & Blackmore compound steam engine, 90 nhp, 1 screw

SS Alert was a steamship that sank off Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia on 28 December 1893.[1][3][4] The ship was built for the gentle waters of Scottish lochs and was almost 51 m (167 ft) long and weighed 247 tonnes.

After Alert sank the ship laid for 113 years on the ocean floor until being rediscovered in June 2007 by a team from Southern Ocean Exploration.


Alert was built at Port Glasgow in 1877 and later sailed to Australia as a three-masted schooner with her funnel and propeller stowed in the hold.[2] After a few years on the MelbourneGeelong route she temporarily replaced the SS Despatch on the Gippsland–Melbourne run in 1893 whilst Despatch was being refitted.

During a gale, the ship set out from Lakes Entrance bound for Melbourne via Port Albert.[1] She encountered hurricane-force southerly winds and mountainous seas and sank about four miles[3] off Cape Schanck.[3][5] Of the 16 people on board, the only survivor was Robert Ponting, the ship's cook, who was washed ashore at Sorrento"back" (ocean) beach after clinging to a portion of cabin door. He was found and revived by locals using brandy and the body heat of a St. Bernard dog.[6] Two bodies were also washed ashore at Sorrento back beach.[7]

An inquiry was held and attached no blame to the lighthouse keeper or the captain[8] but, after years of litigation, compensation was awarded to Ponting and the wife of one of the deceased.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Alert Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number S17". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Shipwrecks of Victoria". 
  3. ^ a b c "THE FOUNDERING OF THE S.S. ALERT." Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle. Vic. 13 January 1894. p. 4 Edition: morning. Retrieved 3 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ Doherty, Ben (2007-06-12). "Deep thrill for Alert adventurers". The Age. 
  5. ^ "Jubilee Point, Vic: Shipwreck in Gale". EMA Disasters Database. Australian Government. 
  6. ^ "Foundering of the s.s. Alert." Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette. Tas. 4 January 1894. p. 3. Retrieved 3 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "WRECK AT THE HEADS". Fitzroy City Press. Vic. 29 December 1893. p. 3. Retrieved 3 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "THE FOUNDERING OF THE S.S. ALERT." The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 20 February 1894. p. 2. Retrieved 3 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "THE S.S. ALERT." The Argus. Melbourne. 24 May 1897. p. 7. Retrieved 3 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°31′34.23″S 144°52′29.35″E / 38.5261750°S 144.8748194°E / -38.5261750; 144.8748194