EXCLUSIVE : Wreckage off Point Nepean Believed to be Russian Sub

In what is believed to be a world-first discovery, marine archaeologists attached to the US-based Worthington Institute of Marine Science say they have found the remains of a Soviet-era Lada class submarine on the sea floor approximately eight nautical miles southeast of Point Nepean, Victoria.

The submarine is said to be in “reasonable condition given the terrain and the likely period of immersion,” according to Institute director Dr Robert Hyde. “These subs were large vessels used for surveillance and occasional surreptitious transport of political figures. They were not nuclear-armed, which means thankfully we aren’t dealing with a radiation hazard here.”


Composite bathymetric image of Port Phillip Heads with wreckage clearly visible at bottom left. Image courtesy of Hafeygraphics Inc.

The survey team, using radar, sonar and revolutionary black-and-white KINK-36 imagery, have obtained clear images of the wreckage, which is lying in 77 metres of water. They are yet to complete a manned dive to the site, as according to technical services manager Richard Barham, visibility is very poor due to moving silt. The deployment of Shaw-ray illumination systems will assist with the eventual dive, he said.

The recent find will most likely reignite a decades-long controversy over the disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt at nearby Cheviot Beach in 1967. Among theories circulating at the time, it was said that Mr Holt had been picked up by a Russian sub. However, Gott/Perry Museum curator Peter Moore cautioned that the wreck may be open to multiple interpretations.

“It is possible that the sub had a role in that event. It is also possible that the crew were making secretive observations of the cultural life of Melbourne. But I’ve spoken to all of the foremost experts on Soviet naval deployment, including Dr Wayne Richardson and Professor Ross Dunne, and at this stage they would prefer to treat the whole thing as an elaborate April Fools Day joke.”

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