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    "SS Woniora was discovered by Max Gleeson and John Riley"
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Valiant The Valiant was apparently commissioned in 1945 by the Ministery of Munitions. The tug was 22.5 metres long, 5.4 metres wide and displaced 72 tons. A sistership, the Fury, was built at the same time. The Valiant was powered by a Crosley HR4 diesel engine giving a top speed of only 8 knots.

    After the end of World War II, ownership of the Valiant passed to the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners. It appears that the ship was modified at this time, with water tanks added, the foredeck lowered and equipment added to suit her new role as a fireboat. It appears to have operated out of Melbourne. I do not know much more about its history but in 1975 it was still registered to the Commissioners.

    The Valiant towing a Melbourne Harbour Trust crane in 1950The Valiant on the left and the Vigorous towing
    a Melbourne Harbour Trust crane in 1952

    I have read that it was purchased in 1978 by a Sydney company and taken to Pittwater on the northern side of Sydney for conversion to a fishing vessel (presumably as a charter vessel to take people out fishing). The Valiant was reported to have failed to pass the Maritime Services Board (now NSW Maritime) survey.

    Another report, says that the vessel was sold in 1980 to David Jackson and taken to Sydney. On the way, there was a fire on board. On arriving in Pittwater, the northern boundary of Sydney, there was work done in an attempt to get her in a condition to make the vessel usuable. However, this was beyond Mr Jackson's abilities and it was decided to strip the vessel.

    Yet one more report says that in 1981 after a complicated series of events while under tow to be scuttled, the tow ropes broke and the Valiant sank approximately one kilometre east of Barrenjoey Head. However, a fourth reports says it sank in 1982 "...about 0.5 km off Palm Beach.....while being towed to its burial at sea.....was a 25m former firefloat......". Yet another report says that when an explosive device was used to remove the prop, the ship started coming apart at the seams. The ship was quickly towed out to sea to be scuttled in deep water but she sank well before reaching the target area. I am not sure what year this was, but I expect that it was 1981.

    As you can see, its final hours are bathed in mystery.

    1. Mooring
    2. Sand Level
    3. Remainder of port bulwarks
    4. Engine room entrances
    5. Toilet entrance
    6. Galley entrance
    7. Remainder of forward bulwarks
    8. Anchor winch
    9. Steering pedestal
    10. Wheelhouse
    11. Engine room skylights
    12. Access hole cut in deck
    13. Towing hook
    14. Towing beam
    15. Aft accommodation entrance
    16. Steering compartment access
    A diagram of the Valiant
    By unknown person - dated about 1989
    Index to diagram at left

    The Valiant is located 1.4 kilometres to the east of the northern-most point of Barrenjoey Headland and 1.0 kilometres to the east-north-east of the eastern-most point. It can be found at GPS Reading 33° 34' 48"S 151° 20' 40"E. Note that all the GPS Readings on my Web Site are taken using AUS66 as the map datum. If you use another datum you may be about 220 metres off the wreck. See my GPS Page for more details and how to convert readings. There used to be a mooring owned by Atlantis Divers on the wreck (they have gone broke and shut down - a pity as under the original owner Mike it was a great operation) and you can use it if it is still there.

    The wreck sits at a depth of 27 metres and sits basically upright with an increasing list to port. The wreck faces west, back into Broken Bay, making it more likely that when it sank it was heading back in towards safety. The ship is basically intact but over the 20 years since 1989 it has changed a fair bit.

    South-western MarkWest-north-west MarkWest-south-western Mark
    South-western MarkWest-north-west MarkWest-south-western Mark

    Even in 1989 when I first dived the Valiant it was covered in marine growths which attract large numbers of fish species. As the photographs accompanying this page show, the colour of the wreck is beautiful.

    Due to the depth it is advisable to spend only 25 minutes exploring the wreck but this is generally satisfactory as the whole wreck only covers an area of about 156 square metres. You can swim around and over the wreck as well as exploring the tug's insides. The engine room, cabins, crew quarters and bridge are accessible and well worth examining.

    A good plan is if you are anchored/moored on the stern, head to the bow along the port (deeper) side. Have a look at the engine room as you pass. You used to be able to enter here, but the last time I dived the wreck it was very full of sand. Once at the bow, head out a bit and look back towards the bridge (as per the photograph above right). Then head to the bridge. This used to be fully intact but is rapidly falling apart.

    Examine the bridge and the galley/toilet. You used to be able to enter the hold in front of the bridge but even 15 years ago it was a tight squeeze and great care was needed. From here go along the starbaord side towards the stern. You can again look into the engine room and then into the accommodation area. By now it is probably getting close to the time to ascend.

    The bow of the wreck, the winch is in the
    foreground and the bridge is visible behind

    Photo by Nick Windle
    This is the engine room skylights on the port side
    Photo by Nick Windle

    The wreck can have visibility varying from excellent to extremely poor and the surface conditions are not always an indication of what it is like at the bottom. It is also possible to have a tidal current on the wreck, though it does not generally extend past 5 or 10 metres.

    Fishlife on the wreck include yellowtail, white ear, bream, mado, stripey, black-tipped bullseye, common bullseye, sergeant baker and the occasional yellowtail kingfish.

    Looking towards the bow of the wreck
    from the stern along the starboard side

    Photo by Nick Windle
    Looking towards the bow from above
    the bridge on the starboard side

    Photo by Nick Windle

    This Sydney shipwreck is an excellent dive for those wishing to do deeper or wreck dives. I am not sure who you can dive this wreck with now that Atlantis Divers no longer exists and another dive charter operator who appeared in about 2008 and disappeared in 2009. You may be able to dive it with Pro Dive if they do dives out of this area.

    Despite what you may read elsewhere, even in the literature of the (now closed) local dive shop, the correct name of the wreck is Valiant and not Valient.


  • Scuba Diving in Northern NSW by Tom Byron pg 163-4
  • Ships that Serve Australia and NZ - Vol 1 Ed 1 by R.D. Fildes, 1975, pg 127
  • Sportdiving in Australia and the South Pacific Number 7 April/May 1988 - article on pages 52 to 54 by Ron Garbutt and Robyn Eves
  • Drawing by unknown person, perhaps Philip Helmore, Naval Architect - contained in above article but also circulated amongst divers

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    Website created 1996!