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Unidentified diver partially submerged next to tug UNDINE

Date: 1899-1953
Medium: Emulsion on nitrate film.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Nitrate negative
Object No: 00021082
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    An unidentified diver partly submerged off the stern of a dug, likely the UNDINE.

    The divers helmet is possibly a Siebe-Gorman helmet but maker's name plate illegible. Helmet similar to a three light, R. H. Davie's patent six bolt helmet and a three light, six bolt, British Admiralty pattern both manufactured by Siebe-Gorman & Company Limited, England.

    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistoryBuilt in 1884 by Batty and Sheehy in Woolloomooloo, UNDINE was a 54 ton wooden screw steamer working predominantly on Sydney Harbour.
    UNDINE was involved in twoi major accidents in its 52 year career. The first occured in 1888 when UNDINE was taking part as a spectator vessel watchinhg a scullimng race on the Parramatta River. The vessel, carrying 165 invited guests, collided with the LITTLE VIOLET. Two men died as a result and the LITTLE VIOLET was sunk.

    On the 28th of December 1936 the UNDINE was wrecked due to an explosion and fire in Walsh Bay, Sydey Harbour.
    An account of the incident was written in The Age the next day:

    "Belived to have been caused nby a boiler bursting, a terrific explosion occured omn the tug UNDINE at No. 4 Wharf, Walsh Bay, early this morning, injuring two men and causing the vessel to sink. The BUSTLER, anoter tug which was alongside UNDINE, was badly damaged, and two men working on it were also injured; while another tug received slight damage. Tram passengers in a street 400 yards away were terrified as they were showered by bolts and pieces of timber, while a number of windows were also shattered.
    Steam was beiung got up on the UNDINE to take it out to meet a liner, and CAptain Merchant was standing with Norman Dean near the wheel house when the explosion occured. They were both blown into the air, while the UNDINE capsized."
    (page 9, The Age, 29 December 1936).

    It was decided to further investigate the cause of the explosion which miraculously did not kill anyone. It was estimated to have caused £10,000 worth of damage (over $900,000 AUD in today's money).

    "A diver who yesterday examined the wreckage of the tug UNDINE, which was blown up on December 28, and sank in about 45 feet of water near No. 4 wharf, Walsh Bay, reported that the hull was in two separate pieces, the force of the explosion having apparently blown it apart at the amid ships section, where the boiler was located. The boiler had been thrown out of the hull and was resting some distance away.

    Residents In the vicinity of the wharf and waterside workers have been intrigued by reports that the funnel was seen to sky-rocket over the high shed between No. 3 and No. 2 wharves, and fall into the harbour off Dawes Point. At first these rumours were discounted, but the diver found no trace of it near the wreck, and there is now much speculation regarding its whereabouts.
    The work of raising the parts of the hull, which is expected to take several days, will probably be started to-day."

    (Sydney Morning Herald, January 7 1937).

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: DIVER ON TUG UNDIVE, SYDNEY

    Assigned title: Diver on tug UNDINE, Sydney

    Web title: Unidentified diver partially submerged next to tug UNDINE

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