SS Batman was a iron barge of 388 tons. Built in 1883 and scuttled May 20th 1935.
Geoff Naylor was a member of
a group of divers to explore the Ships graveyard area in November 1972, and on their first dive they discovered
the steam barge Batman.
Interesting to note the deterioration occuring over the years looking at the photos.
Ship Name: Batman
Date Scuttled: 21 May 1935
Official Number: 79548
Port of Registration: Melbourne
Owner(s): Melbourne Harbor Trust Commissioners
Primary Use: Hopper barge
Length: 156.6 ft
Beam: 26.1 ft
Depth: 12.2 ft
Tons net: 169 tons
Tons gross: 388 tons
Rig: Steam hopper barge
Builder: W. Simons & Co.
Where Built: Renfrew, Scotland
When Built: 1883
The S.H.B. Batman and sister ship, S.H.B. Fawkner were
ordered through the firm of, W. Simons & Co.,
shipbuilders of Scotland at cost of 22,550 pounds for
The Batman worked mainly on Port Phillip carrying mud
to the spoil grounds for most of its career. However,
in the 1880's at the time of the Russian invasion
scare; it was fitted with a magazine, shell room and
protective plating in the bow, becoming an auxiliary
vessel in the Victorian Navy. It received local
modifications to carry a 6-inch gun along with two
Gatling guns. Over a number of years it took part in
the annual Easter maneuvers; however, due to
government cutbacks, it took no further part after
In November 1896, the Batman commenced its long career
of being rammed, returning the favour in kind; by
ramming and sinking a number of other vessels on Port
At one time whilst near the Yarraville sugar works,
the Batman, with two mud barges in tow let one of them
go. The steamer Gabo that was following close behind
maneuvered to avoid the barge, but in the process
collided with the Batman damaging the hull plates of
In September 1888, another incident occurred in the
Yarra River when the Batman and the barque Innocenti
collided, no one was held to blame.
In August 1897, the Batman was proceeding down the
river to discharge its cargo of mud in the Spoil
Grounds. The Batman, unfortunately struck the coal
hulk Jane Woodburn, the hulk, with 530 tons of coal on
board sank in 25 feet of water.
In August 1906, the Batman was again involved in an
incident when the SS Flora collided with the former
causing extensive damage to its bow. The Batman was
fully laden at the time when the Flora cut about 15
feet into its forward compartment. The vessels parted
and the Batman commenced sinking by the bow, quick
thinking by the Captain had the hopper doors open; and
the load of mud was dropped to the riverbed. Two
Melbourne Harbor Trust (MHT) vessels that happened to
be passing took the Batman in tow to the MHT wharf in
the old river.
In what was an extremely bad month for the Batman, the
Argus of 28 August 1915 reports of the Batman
colliding with the west coast steamer Casino, causing
it to be run aground on Point Gellibrand reef.
However, about 7 weeks previously, the Batman had sent
the small passenger steamer Awaroa, which was engaged
in the Queenscliff trade to the bottom of the Yarra
After many years of work on Port Phillip, the Batman
was laid up in 1930, sold for scrap in 1935 and on 21
May 1935 the tug Sprightly towed it out into the
Ships' Graveyard. At the designated sinking site the
sea cocks were opened and it was sent to the bottom
with 2 x 5-pound charge of blasting gelatine.
Special credit for the history: Peter (PT) Taylor, a SOE group member, researched material for the Ships Graveyard Project, helping to positively identify the wreck sites around the bays & coast lines.