Memorial for Lost Sea Captain John Dowling

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Captain

A memorial seat and plaque will be installed along the Strand in Williamstown in honour of Captain John Dowling, who was lost at sea when his ship sank 82 years ago.

The 47-year-old departed Williamstown in November 1934, for one last journey on the cargo steamer TSS Coramba.  The return trip to Warrnambool in the state’s south-west to collect goods meant he was expected to be gone for a fortnight.

By the time the Coramba was due to leave Warrnambool, the weather had turned.  Captain Dowling requested permission from the shipping office to delay his return, but was ordered out to sea.

In one of Victoria’s worst maritime disasters, the Coramba capsized off Phillip Island during a storm on November 30, 1934, and all 17 on board died.   The 50-metre vessel was trying to seek refuge in Western Port Bay when it capsized before any lifeboats could be released.

Maritime historian Des Williams and diver Mark Ryan ended one of the state’s most enduring shipwreck mysteries in 2011, when they found the Coramba lying on its port side 66 metres beneath the surface, 15 kilometres south-east of Phillip Island.  Southern Ocean Exploration had spent nearly $30,000 and eight years searching for the Coramba before the unexpected find.

The memorial to Captain Dowling will be placed near his former home at 30 Strand, Williamstown.

Source: Star Weekly

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