Two Hobsons Bay residents are using digital technology to recreate one of Victoria’s and the world’s best preserved 19th century shipwrecks.

Williamstown historian Lloyd Clearihan and Newport maritime archaeologist Jane Mitchell are creating 3D models – much the same way as a computer-generated face can be recreated from a skull – of the SS City of Launceston, which sunk in Port Phillip Bay after colliding with another vessel in 1865.

The pair are the first in Victoria to pioneer computer-generated 3D ship modelling.

VIDEO: TAKE A VIRTUAL DIVE TO SEE THE REMAINS OF SS LAUNCESTON 

 
The wreck is off limits to divers most of the time, but Heritage Victoria has opened it up for registered divers, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of its sinking on November 19.

The ship was built in Glasgow to be the flagship of the Melbourne Steamship Navigation Company and was the forerunner to today’s Spirit of Tasmania.

Ms Mitchell said the ship lay undisturbed until 1980 when it was located by members of the Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria.

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A 3D MODEL OF THE SHIP’S TOILET

 
“The find was considered so significant that Victoria enacted the first state-based legislation to protect historic shipwrecks in 1981 in an effort to protect the artefacts that were still spread across the deck,” she said.

“The City currently lies within a protected zone, limiting access in an effort to preserve the wreck for as long as possible.”

Mr Clearihan said 3D modelling would enable those who didn’t dive to see the ship.

“If we can successfully capture the entire wreck, then anyone can take a virtual ‘dive’ through this 19th century time capsule and catch a glimpse into the lives of Melburnians 150 years ago,” he said.

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A 3D RENDERING OF THE LAUNCESTON WITH SPIRIT OF TASMANIA FOR COMPARISON

 

“We are also planning on 3D modelling a substantial number of the artefacts from the wreck.

“One of the most interesting so far was one of the ship’s toilets, which was raised by Heritage Victoria in the ’90s.

“It’s very different to a modern toilet and includes an ornate illustration inside the toilet bowl. It’s a fantastic example of how this ship was fitted out to be the utmost in luxury at the time.”

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