The Cheynes II under sail, returning from Heard Island (1983).


Vessel type: Steamship

Date lost: 1992

Cause of loss: Broke its moorings in a storm

Number of Casualties: 0

Discovery date (if applicable): 1992

Location/water depth: Grounded in 4 meters of water in Princess Royal Harbour, Albany W.A.


After 36 years as a whale chaser in Norway and Australia, SS Cheynes II left Hobart in 1983 with 25 adventurers on a research voyage to Heard Island, Antarctica.

This six week voyage became a twelve week survival expedition, chewing through huge amounts of fuel as the crew battled gale-driven waves. They were forced to retreat to Albany; the Cheynes II’s former whaling post. They set off again, ignoring grave warnings from experienced ex-whalers.  After miraculously surviving being swept onto treacherous rocks, they finally reached Heard Island.

On the journey home, they ran into trouble when they lost their dinghy and the engine completely shut down! Frantically they crafted sails from canvas fragments, putting the hulking 440 ton steamboat under sail.

The Cheynes II overcame many challenges in one of the remotest parts of the world, sailing the last 390 hours of the voyage under improvised sail – right into maritime history.  

Wet Your Appetite!

In 1986 Cheynes II was to become a floating restaurant, fitted with jarrah and velvet trims. Today she sits on the bottom of Albany’s Princess Royal Harbour as a monument and a luxury pigeon loft!



The Cheynes II under sail, returning from Heard Island (1983).

The Cheynes II’s current resting place in Princess Royal Harbour, Albany W.A.

Inside the Cheynes II midway through being turned into a floating restaurant (1986).

Objects of interest (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the shipwreck story.

Heard Island

  • Movie ‘The Ship That Shouldn’t Have’
  • Book ‘Specks in the Southern Ocean – Jeremy Smith’
  • Book ‘Heard Island Odyssey – Kirsti Jenkins-Smith’
  • Various articles

Whale Chaser History

  • Whale catch statistic books
  • Matchstick model
  • Photographs
  • Newspaper articles
  • Harpoons that were used on board
  • Bell labelled THORBRYN (original name of the Cheynes II when it was a whale chaser in Norway)
  • Article outlining the floating restaurant - Fins Fisheries News 1986 Vol. 19 No. 1

AMMC Member Institution

Albany's Historic Whaling Station

submitted by Katelyn Weinert

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