Mr Cussler funded the operation through NUMA (South Africa National and Underwater Marine Agency) and Emlyn Brown, research director, provided the background data relating to the most likely site of the Waratah wreck. The partnership hired a marine survey firm, Sistema Ltd, to locate the wreck. Sonar outline of a wreck was discovered in the believed location but Gary Kozak of Klein & Associates studied the sonar images and reported that they were too vague to be confirmed as those of the Waratah.
The location for the search was based on two pieces of alleged eye witness accounts: Joe Conquer who alleged that he saw the Waratah founder off the Bashee Mouth at midday on 27 July, 1909. D.J. Roos, an airmail pilot who claimed to have identified the wreck of the Waratah as he flew over the location identified by Joe Conquer.
According to the research there were no other iron steamships on the seabed at that location, and those within 60 miles were accounted for. Due to the ambiguity of the sonar interpretations it was decided that the only way to comprehensively identify the Waratah was to send an ROV down to the seabed at that location.
January 17, 2001, the ROV identified a wreck and Emlyn Brown commented:
“…Although the submarine dive to the wreck was flawless, the wreck we thought was the Waratah, is in fact not, repeat not the Waratah,”
“It is a cargo ship carrying military hardware, tanks, tires, trucks, etc. that we now know was sunk by a U-boat in 1942. I, and all involved are stunned beyond belief, and almost speechless at what was finally seen on the ocean floor.”
This final search for the Waratah represented the ninth attempt to locate the Waratah since 1983. There have been no further attempts.