Glenbank shipwreck: Finnish vessel that sank off coast of Western Australia in 1911 found

When the cargo ship Glenbank foundered in a hurricane off the coast of Western Australia in 1911, there was just one survivor.

Antle Kitala, a Finnish sailor, was in the rigging with the third mate when “disaster occurred almost in a moment”, according to the West Australian’s 13 February report.

The pair and the ship’s cook were the only three of 24 crew left on the surface when the Glenbank sank.

After a “tremendous wave”, 22-year-old Kitala (also known as Antti Ketola) found himself alone. He never saw the others again.

He clung to timber, was washed up on Legendre Island, then went without food and water for three days before he was picked up by a pearling boat.

More than 100 years later, the wreck of the 73m ship has been found. According to a statement from Disney+ and the Western Australian Museum, a group of local fishers found the site. When the Disney+ crew (who are releasing a series called Shipwreck Hunters Australia) reported it to the museum, the museum confirmed the ship’s identity.

Shipwreck Hunters Australia’s Johnny Debnam said they surveyed, dived and filmed the site, which was “abundant with sharks, turtles, dolphins and other marine life”.

Dr Deb Shefi, a maritime archaeologist at the WA Museum, said it was uncommon to find “a silhouette of a ship, with the masts aligned, resting on the seafloor like this”.

“The unseasonably good weather meant Glenbank was ready to shed its secrets and we were able to record measurements and details that will assist further research into this tragic shipwreck,” she said.

Shefi said it was a significant discovery that told the tale of global trade at the turn of the century and gave “a voice to those who tragically lost their lives on that fateful day in 1911”.

The team also tracked down Kitala’s grandson, Matti Latva-Panula, now in his 80s, who had never heard about what happened.

“Whenever he [Ketola] lived here in Finland there were no stories about it, and he never talked about it, so it has been totally hidden what has happened to Antti,” Latva-Panula said.

“From now on the story is going to live in the family. All the children and grandchildren will know about it.”