SS Port Kembla

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Name: SS Port Kembla
Owner: Commonwealth and Dominion Line
Builder: Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd.
Yard number: 439
In service: 1910
Fate: Sunk 18 September 1917
General characteristics
Tonnage: 4,700 GT, 2,990 NT
Length: 121 m
Beam: 16 m
Installed power: steam

SS Port Kembla was a steamer owned by the Commonwealth and Dominion Line and named after Port Kembla, New South Wales, Australia. She was sunk 17 kilometres (11 mi) off Farewell Spit on New Zealand′s South Island on 18 September 1917 by a mine laid by the Imperial German Navy auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf. During an inquiry held in Wellington, New Zealand, shortly after the sinking it was thought that the explosion was from an internal source rather than a mine.[1]

When she sank, the ship was fully laden with frozen produce, wool, skins, tallow, jams, lead, and general cargo which was being shipped from Australia to the United Kingdom for use during World War I.[1]

The wreck of Port Kembla lies at a depth of 96 metres (315 ft) and is visited by scuba divers. In 1977, a plan to salvage 1,200 tonnes of lead from the wreck did not come to fruition because of ownership disputes. As of 2012, plans were being made for a second attempt to recover the lead.[2]


  1. ^ a b "THE PORT KEMBLA DISASTER.". Colonist. 1 October 1917. p. 3. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Rose, Patrick (17 April 2012). "World War One Lead Salvage Effort Planned". Nelson Mail. Retrieved 17 April 2012.