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3 December 2015
The large number of ships wrecked along the coast of Western Australia was sometimes due to the powerful storms and gales which occur at certain times of the year when the wind is normally onshore. There was also a problem of sandbanks, islands and reefs which presented formidable obstacles for mariners and many sunken vessels have never been located.
The shipwrecks near the Rockingham-Kwinana-Cockburn coastline include the SS Kwinana (formerly the SS Darius) which blew ashore at Kwinana Beach in 1922 and gave the City of Kwinana its name. The ship Rockingham which gave the City of Rockingham its name, was the last of Thomas Peel’s ships to arrive in 1830.
Although badly damaged, it was still intended to sail to Batavia (Jakarta) soon after. On hearing this and fearing for their lives, the crew jumped ship in Cockburn Sound which resulted in the trip being aborted while the ship was eventually abandoned in Careening Bay, Garden Island. Another local shipwreck is the SS Alacrity located in Jervoise Bay on the south side of Woodman’s Point. Originally built in France in 1893 and named the Jean Barte, she was later renamed the SS Alacrity and used for a patrol vessel, minesweeper, and harbour tug during World War I.
After the war she was used to inspect Cockburn Sound as a potential naval base and later for towing barges in preparation for Henderson Naval Base. After work on the naval base was abandoned in 1921, she changed hands a couple of times with plans to be broken up for scrap. In May 1931, she broke away from her anchor in Jervoise Bay and was blown ashore. With the construction of the oil rig Ocean Endeavour in 1975, dredging works removed a large section of the beach, which left the Alacrity wreck 50 metres out to sea.