Lake Illawarra. Steel motor vessel, bulk carrier, 7274/4343 tons. # 178472.
Built Whyalla, South Australia, 1958, reg. Port Adelaide 2/1958.
Lbd 446.15 x 58.75 x 31.4 ft.
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission (Australian National Line).
Captain B. J. Pelc.
Undoubtedly Tasmania's most sensational shipping disaster
which sank after running into and demolishing part of the
Tasman Bridge crossing the Derwent River at Hobart, 5 January 1975.
Seven of her crew and five people in cars that went over the bridge lost their lives.
Sailed from Port Pirie, South Australia,
with a cargo of zinc concentrate for the Electrolytic Zinc Company's Risdon works.
Approaching the bridge she was surging forward at eight knots,
apparently under the influence of a strong flood tide,
and the master dropped speed to approach the bridge at a 'safe' speed.
As the vessel came closer it was seen she was out of line for the central navigation span of
the bridge, and despite several changes of course the ship proved quite unmanageable,
apparently due to insufficient speed relative to the current to maintain steerage way.
In desperation the master finally called out full speed astern,
at which point all control was lost
and the vessel drifted bodily towards the bridge about midway
between the navigation span and the eastern shore,
crashing first into the pile capping of pier 18 and then pier 19,
bringing the three unsupported spans crashing onto the vessel's hull.
The ship listed to starboard and sank within minutes in deep water a short distance to the south,
where most of it remains to this day in 110 feet of water.
The master had his certificate suspended for six months after it was
found that had not handled the Lake Illawarra in a proper and seamanlike manner.
The ship herself could not be moved without high risk of further damaging the bridge,
and after all oil was recovered from the wreck to reduce the likelihood of pollution,
she was left where she lay.
The damage to the eleven year-old bridge wrought havoc on the city of Hobart,
the residents of the heavily populated eastern shore
being forced to drive considerable distance to Bridgewater in order to cross the Derwent.
The bridge was repaired and reopened for business on 8 October 1977.
Seven members of the crew and five motorists crossing the bridge lost their lives.
Bow later removed by United Divers Australia. [TS2],[LSW],[LAH]