How and to what extent can Historical Ship Structural Components be Observed in a Shallow Dynamic Environment? The Case Study of SS Admella

Author: Philippe Kermeen

Kermeen, Philippe, 2023 How and to what extent can Historical Ship Structural Components be Observed in a Shallow Dynamic Environment? The Case Study of SS Admella, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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On the morning 6 August 1859, SS Admella, a modern 3-masted screw steamship was travelling towards Cape Northumberland with 88 passengers and 23 crew when it struck Carpenters Reef, roughly 3.2 km northwest of Carpenter Rocks town. It was there that the vessel had been lifted on to the reef’s plateau and the people onboard experienced the greatest horrors of their lives. Severe storms and swell lashed at the vessel until the bulkheads gave way from the pressure, tearing apart the stern and bow of the vessel, disappearing into the night with only the midships intact and what was left of the passengers and crew. This thesis investigates the shallow dynamic environment with the case study focussing on historical ship loss in a high energy environment. The overarching research design asks the question of ‘how and to what extent can historical ship structural components be observed in a shallow dynamic environment?’. The results provide an understanding of the submerged landscape context and how a shallow reef environment with severe hydrodynamic movement has been the cause for seven known shipwrecks and one newly discovered. The remote sensing Coastal Integration Workflow (CIW) method proved to be exceptionally worthwhile in producing an image of the submerged landscape and supported in identifying reef bommies. When combined with ROV, the RPAS CIW method can be utilised more thoroughly to understand the underwater environment and gather information on the hydrodynamic flow in Cape Banks. The applied methods resulted not in the finding of Admella but of a smaller iron-built vessel making it potentially the eighth vessel to be wrecked on Carpenters Reef. The historic comparison of three screw steamships is undertaken in this thesis to understand why the experimental bulkheads were not the primary issue for the wrecking of Admella.

Keywords: Maritime Archaeology, RPAS, ROV, Magnetometer, Coastal Integration Workflow, Coastal Archaeology, Shipwrecks, Cape Banks, SS Admella, SCUBA, Remote Sensing, Autonomous Aerial Survey, Archaeology, Shallow Dynamic Landscapes, Limestone Coastal and Reef, Ship-graveyard, Drones, UAV, Photogrammetry, Shipwreck Taphonomy

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2023
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Wendy van Duivenvoorde