Multibeam image of the wreck site

Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Historic England in 2019 to undertake an Undesignated Site Assessment of a shipwreck site in the Bristol Channel near Lundy, believed to be the wreck of the late 19th century composite clipper South Australian. The work was undertaken as part of the Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Protection contract 2019-20. Historic England is undertaking a thematic study into early iron and composite vessels and the wreck was selected for assessment under this theme.

South Australian, Bristol Channel Undesignated Site Assessment from Wessex Archaeology

As a result of this survey work the South Australian site was designated as a ‘Scheduled Monument’ in November 2019.

Because of the depth of the site and the challenging tidal conditions Wessex Archaeology decided to use an ROV for the survey. Wessex chartered Obsession II from Ilfracombe, skippered by Leigh Hanks, as the platform from which to launch the ROV. Shaun Galliver and Keith Denby from Ilfracombe & N Devon Sub-Aqua Club were on board to help with survey locations as both had dived the wreck. The weather was fairly pleasant with very little wave action.

The ROV used was a 100m-rated BlueROV 2 in ‘heavy configuration’, with a 300m umbilical. In addition to its normal payload of HD cctv camera and LED lights, to ensure adequate navigation and imaging in low visibility it was fitted externally with a Sonardyne USBL acoustic tracking beacon and a 15,000-lumen video light.

This video clip, taken by the ROV, shows the iron frames that once held the hull planking. These can be seen sticking out of the sand with the rail stack lying above them.