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SS Cape Otway

The SS CAPE OTWAY

Built by the Commonwealth Shipping Board in 1931 as a single screw steamer; she served as a lighthouse maintenance vessel, then as a general coastal cargo vessel before being scuttled on 7th September 1968.

The role of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service (CLS) vessels was to maintain navigational aids, lighthouse maintenance and transport essentials and families to and from lighthouses around Australia. You can read more about the CLS and the other ships used by the CLS here

A similar size to one of our previous surveys (The Junee) there has been some confusion for years over the identity of these two wrecks, apparently due to the presence of the large winch on the back deck of the Otway wreck which could be mistaken for the minesweeper winch on the Junee. We have positively identified the Junee, and are looking forward to the result of our survey of this next site.

Resting in 87m of water we dived and modeled the SS Cape Otway on 20/1/2023

This dive presented some challenges for us, mainly the fact that the visibility was just too good. As a result we filmed too high off the wreck which has resulted in this being a darker model than the Ex HMAS Junee.

Despite the limitations of the footage we collected the two boilers and single triple expansion steam engine are visible. This information combined with the two masts and size of the wreck leaves no doubt that this is the wreck of the SS Cape Otway.

3D Model
– Web Quality, so lacking a lot of detail, please ask us if you want a copy of the full model
– Click the expand icon on the model to rotate and zoom

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Animation

Static Images

Historical images and plans

Peter Balalas: I believe we first dived this wreck in Jan 2003 after being given a chart of magnetic anomalies by the Maritime Museum.I have attached a photo of the Junee alongside the Cape Otway before they were both towed out to sea to be scuttled.
Gordon Branch Facebook: My maternal grandfather, Joe Malacari, served on one of these “Cape” class lighthouse supply ships for a couple of trips in the mid-50s. He was a steward on the SS Cape Otway operating out of Fremantle. The attached scan of a sketch was done by the First Mate of the Cape Otway and given to my grandfather. My Mum has since inherited it.
Facebook Gordon Branch: From the National Archives collection: Here is a plan of the Cape Otways sister-ship, SS Cape Leeuwin. NAA: J2775, A165A
Image courtesy Peter Balalas; Richard McKenna Collection WA Museum
Image courtesy Peter Balalas; Richard McKenna Collection WA Museum
Image courtesy Peter Balalas; Richard McKenna Collection WA Museum
Image courtesy Peter Balalas; Richard McKenna Collection WA Museum
Image courtesy Peter Balalas; Richard McKenna Collection WA Museum
SS Cape Otway image from Australian War Memorial

GPS Position and orientation
(Bow to the north)


Access the details from the WA Museum Shipwreck Database Here

Access the details from Wrecksite.eu Here