A 111-Year-Old Shipwreck Discovered Off The WA Coast Is Part Of A New Disney+ Docuseries

Shipwreck Hunters Australia
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It has been over 100 years since the Finnish-owned sailing ship named Glenbank went missing, and it’s final resting place has finally been revealed as part of the new Disney+ docuseries, Shipwreck Hunters Australia.

The historically significant discovery was filmed and included in the first episode of the series, which premiered earlier this month, telling the story of the Scottish-built cargo ship and its crew of more than 20 who perished at sea in what we now know as the Dampier Marine Park.

Shipwreck Hunters Australia

A group of local fishing friends were the first to find the secluded deep-water site, including Kevin Deacon, Johnny Debnam, Luke Leech, Justin Leech and Tom Radley. From there the Shipwreck Hunters Australia dive team reported the discovery to Western Australian Museum, who sent maritime archaeologists to examine the finding and ultimately confirm it was the missing Glenbank ship.

“We were incredibly excited when we first discovered the ship,” said Shipwreck Hunters’ Johnny Debnam. “After undertaking a full survey, diving, and filming the huge wreck-site, abundant with sharks, turtles, dolphins and other marine life, the team was able to interpret pivotal evidence from the seabed, along with a deep dive into the archives, to help piece together the ship’s incredible story.”

The Glenbank docked at Balla Balla, Western Australia, in November 1910 before being chartered by Whim Well Copper Mines Ltd to transport copper ore from Balla Balla to the United Kingdom. The ship’s crew (pictured below) was made up of more than 20 Russian, Norwegian and Finnish members and was commanded by Finn, Captain Fredrik Moberg.

It was determined that Glenbank sank due to the unsecured cargo of copper ore shifting during a terrible storm, which caused the ship to capsize, splitting the hull and deck structure apart.

Maritime Archaeologist, Dr Deb Shefi from the Western Australian Museum said the discovery was incredibly significant in helping understand global trade at the turn of the century, along with “giving a voice to those who tragically lost their lives on that fateful day in 1911.”

She added it was very uncommon to find a silhouette of a ship resting on the seafloor such as in the case of the Glenbank, with excellent weather meaning they were able to record details that will aid further research into the devastating shipwreck.

All but one of Glenbank’s crew were lost at sea, with the sole survivor being Antti Ketola, a 22-year-old Finnish seaman who clung to a piece of timber when the ship capsized and was washed up on Legendre Island. Ketola was stranded there for three days, surviving on raw shellfish until he was rescued by a pearling lugger and taken to Cossack.

The Shipwreck Hunters Australia team was able to track down Ketola’s descendants in Finland who had no idea about their ancestor’s extraordinary shipwreck story. Ketola’s grandson, Matti Latva-Panula, said he never spoke of this incredible tale, meaning it was hidden until the discovery.

“From now on the story is going to live in the family. All the children and grandchildren will know about it,” he said.

All six episodes of Shipwreck Hunters Australia are now available to stream on Disney+.