Over a century after it went missing, a Finnish sailing vessel was discovered in a marine park off Australia’s West coast.
The Glenbank wreck was discovered by local fishing friends Johnny Debnam, Luke Leech, Tom Radley, Kevin Deacon, and Justin Leech in the Dampier Marine Park, close to Karratha.
Over 20 members of the crew were on the ship, which reached Balla Balla to deliver copper ore to the UK when it reportedly capsized during a string storm in 1911 (February). A crew member swam to an island nearby and was rescued by a pearling lugger after being stranded there for three whole days. He was the only remaining survivor.
The discovery was reportedly confirmed by some specialist marine archaeologists and shot as part of the Disney+ Original series Shipwreck Hunters Australia. Mr Debnam, who works on the show, said the find was exciting.
After undertaking an end-to-end survey, diving, and filming the wreck site, dotted with sharks, dolphins, turtles, and other marine creatures, the expert team was capable of interpreting critical findings from the seabed with a deep dive into the archives to help piece the ship’s incredible story seamlessly, he said.
The show details the story of the Glenbank’s sole survivor, a 22-year-old seafarer named Antti Ketola, who survived on raw shellfish while waiting for his rescue.
The Shipwreck Hunters Australia team could track down the descendants in Finland, who had zero ideas of the story.
Whenever he lived here in Finland there were no stories regarding it and he never discussed it, so it’s been entirely hidden what had happened to Antti, Matti Latvia-Panula, his grandson, explained.
From now on, the story is going to live in their family. The grandchildren and children will be aware of it.
A renowned maritime archaeologist associated with the Western Australian Museum, Deb Shefi, said it was a significant discovery. It is not often people discover a silhouette of a vessel, with its masts aligned, resting on the seafloor like this, she explained.
The unseasonably favourable weather indicated that Glenbank was prepared to shed the secrets, and they were able to record the details and measurements that would aid in further research into the tragic shipwreck.
References: The West Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald