Monday, 13 June 2016

Losing an Icon – MV Sygna Shipwreck

The recent severe east coast storms in Australia has finally claimed the last remnant of the Sygna shipwreck from Stockton Beach.
Sygna Shipwreck @ Stockton Beach

The iconic shipwreck at Stockton Beach – MV Sygna – has finally succumbed to decades of storm weather, waves, salt water and corrosion.  The Sygna is no more.

In 1974, the MV Sygna, a 58,000 tonne Norwegian bulk carrier was blown ashore at Stockton Beach by strong winds on its maiden voyage.  All attempts to recover the ship failed.  And the constant pounding of the seas broke the vessel in two.
Stockton Beach 1974

In the end, most of Sygna's hull, forward of the superstructure was towed away and sold for scrap metal.  The heavier [fully stuck] aft section with the superstructure was left behind [minus many of its internal components], where it stayed for over 42 years slowly corroding away and reclaimed by Poseidon.

MV Sygna prior to the hull separation

Hull has buckled but not yet breached - 1974

The Sygna as it broke in two - 1974

MV Sygna 1974
I grew up in Port Stephens [Nelson Bay], and for as long as I can remember, the Sygna has been a part of the landscape of the Southern end of Stockton Beach.

And it’s almost a rite of passage for us locals growing up in the area to either 4WD, trail-bike or buggy ride Stockton Beach.  That was certainly the case with my friends and I.

This inevitably lead to countless photos taken of us and our vehicles in front of this iconic local shipwreck. 

The last photo taken by me was the end of the last decade on my last capable vehicle to tackle Stockton Beach - a Mitsubishi Pajero.

My Mitsubishi Pajero at Sygna Shipwreck in 2007

At the time of the Sygna grounding in 1974, I was just a baby.  But for as far as I can remember, way before anyone even thought about starting a 4WD tour business and making it a sightseeing tour destination, us locals have been visiting it regularly ever since.

We’d usually enter Stockton Beach at the Northern end at Birubi Point, Anna Bay, then drive over an hour the 25 odd kilometers to the Sygna shipwreck site.  The site was always our main stop and turn around point to return, usually back from where we came from, or vehicle dependent [whether on road legal car etc] cheat slightly and exit at the Williamtown end via Lavis Lane.

Google Maps Aerial view of Stockton Beach

Sygna -2011
But in the last decade or two, it was obvious the Sygna is slowly fading away.

Beyond the initial breaching of the ship, followed by its hull separation in 1974, the second biggest event to happen to the Sygna in my opinion was when the main structure top storey collapse onto the deck.  Significantly lessening the silhouette the Sygna made above the waterline. 

But now it seems her stubbornness against mother nature has finally been lost. 

RIP MV Sygna, you will be missed.

Sygna in 1984
Sygna in 2005