Sonar images and later ROV investigations of the wrecks, found only 22 miles apart at a depth of 3.7km in the Indian Ocean south-west of Australia, suggest they were sailing-ships of European origin carrying cargoes of coal, according to experts at the Western Australian Museum.

They say these are the deepest wrecks yet found in the Indian Ocean - and among the most remote.

The first wreck was found in May 2015 and the second in December of that year, but only now do the museum’s experts believe they have established likely identities for both wrecks.

The timber-hulled May find is thought to be either the brig W Gordon, which disappeared in 1877 en route from Scotland to Australia, or the barque Magdala, which sank in 1882 while sailing from Wales to Indonesia. In both cases a coal explosion was thought to have caused the sinking.

The other vessel is thought like to be the West Ridge, which was lost while sailing from England to India in 1883.

The iron ship was found far off its expected route, but it’s thought that it might have got into difficulties and been trying to make it to an Australian port.

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