SS Myola

The SS Myola was a 655-ton screw steamer, 55 metres long, built in Middlesbrough in the United Kingdom.[2] The Myola, could unfurl sails on her two tall masts and gain a knot or so of additional speed when the wind suited.[3]

Name: SS Myola (1913–1919)
Owner: Australian Steamships Ltd. (Howard Smith Limited)
Builder: Smiths Dock Company, South Bank, Middlesbrough, Northeast England
Completed: 1913
Identification: Ship official number 132448
Fate: foundered 2 April 1919 off Long Reef
Notes: location of wreck 33.7612°S 151.36338°E / -33.7612; 151.36338[1]
General characteristics
Type: Collier, screw steamer
Tonnage: 655 GT
Length: 180 ft (55 m)
Beam: 29.1 ft (8.9 m)
Draught: 11.6 ft (3.5 m)
Installed power: T3cyl (16.5, 27, 44 x 30in), 1 screw, engine aft 2 powered scotch boilers, 150 horsepower plus sails
Sail plan: two masts

The Myola left Newcastle, New South Wales, on 1 April 1919 bound for Sydney. The load was 675 tons of coal.

Captain Higgins replaced his usual crew, quarantined in Sydney after an epidemic of influenza. A thirty mile per hour south-easterly wind created heavy seas. When off Long Reef near Sydney, Myola was struck by a heavy wave. Water entered the engine room. At about 12:15 a.m., the ship suddenly lurched to starboard and it then came over to port and came to rest on its beam ends, with water over the well deck.[4] Subsequently the ship floundered, sinking rapidly. Four miles behind, the steamer South Bulli observed distress flares and assisted picking up survivors. Four lives were lost.

A subsequent Court of Marine Inquiry found that the foundering was caused by the coal cargo "shifting" and from an accumulation of water in the bilges. It was also critical of the second engineer for not starting the pumps earlier or informing superior officers of the situation.[4][5]

The Myola was one of three coastal steam colliers (or 'sixty-milers') to be lost, in the six-months from Dec 1918 to May 1919. The other two were the Undola and the Tuggerah. As a result, a Royal Commission was set up to inquire into the coastal coal carrying trade and the loss of the three ships.

The Royal Commission's finding on the loss of the Myola, differed from that of the earlier inquiry. It rejected 'shifting coal' as the cause of the loss and found that the amount of water in the bilges was not significant. Relying upon the calculations of a naval architect and evidence that the Myola was up to 75-tons over its theoretical deadweight tonnage upon leaving Newcastle, the finding on the cause of the loss of the Myola was:

"the Myola having had an amount of loose water in her [ballast] tanks on leaving Newcastle which reduced the righting levers considerably and rendered her unstable and eventually caused the loss. This theory meets the facts more consistently than any others which has been advanced."[4]

The reason for there being free water in the ballast tanks was not known - the crew believed that the tanks were empty - but the Royal Commission was, in its own words, "forced to consider the possible neglect to keep filling valves screwed down when not in use as a possible cause of the disaster".[4]

Contemporary reports stated the Myola sunk off Sydney Heads. However, the wreck of the Myola was found in 1994, in 48 metres of water off Long Reef, lying on its port side.[6][7] Damage to the propeller indicates that the engine was still running as the ship foundered, which is consistent with accounts given by the crew.[8]


  1. "SS Myola". Michael Mcfadyen. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  2. "Screw Steamer Myola". Tees Built Ships. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  3. John., Riley, (1995). Myola : Sydney's last shipwreck. Fields, Peter. Bondi, N.S.W.: J. Riley & P. Fields. p. 8. ISBN 978-0646248158. OCLC 38376859.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. Royal Commission (1920). Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Design, Construction, Management, Equipment, Manning, Leading, Navigation and Running of the Vessels Engaged in the Coastal Coal-carrying Trade in New South Wales and into the Cause or Causes of the Loss of the Colliers Undola, Myola and Tuggerah. National Library of Australia: NSW Government Printer. pp. Pages 29-34.
  5. "LOSS OF THE MYOLA". Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (Sydney, NSW : 1891 - 1954). 12 August 1919. p. 4. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  6. "Shipwreck – Myola". Australian National Shipwreck Database. Australian Government – Department of Environment & Energy. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  7. "SS Myola". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  8. "Myola". Retrieved 6 August 2018.

Michael McFadyen. "Diving on the SS Myola, 1 December 2012"".

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