Wreck of Japanese Ship That Sank Carrying Australian POWs is Discovered

The wreck of a Japanese ship that sank in 1942 after it was torpedoed by an American submarine has been discovered, the Australian authorities stated on Saturday. The ship was carrying a whole lot of prisoners of conflict, most of them Australian, who all died, and the invention resolves a painful episode in that nation’s wartime historical past.

A U.S. Navy submarine attacked the ship, the Montevideo Maru, in July 1942 because it traveled unescorted from Rabaul, a port within the Australian territory of New Guinea that had been captured by Japan earlier that yr, to China’s Hainan Island, which Japan had invaded in 1939.

The ship had no markings indicating that it was carrying prisoners of conflict and sank carrying greater than 1,000 prisoners from about 16 nations, most of them Australian service members. It’s the largest lack of lifetime of Australians at sea.

The wreck was noticed this month on the seafloor northwest of Luzon, the biggest island within the Philippines, based on Fugro, an organization primarily based within the Netherlands that supplied the survey ship. The mission took 5 years to plan, and an autonomous underwater automobile discovered the wreck after 12 days of looking, Fugro stated.

The shipwreck website lies at a depth of greater than 4,000 meters, or about 13,000 toes — a spot deeper than the place the Titanic, the world’s most well-known shipwreck, got here to relaxation south of Newfoundland.

“This brings to an finish probably the most tragic chapters in Australia’s maritime historical past,” Richard Marles, the nation’s deputy prime minister and protection minister, stated in a video posted to his Twitter account on Saturday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia stated in a separate assertion that the federal government hoped the information would convey “a measure of consolation to family members who’ve saved a protracted vigil.”

“The extraordinary effort behind this discovery speaks for the enduring fact of Australia’s solemn nationwide promise to at all times keep in mind and honor those that served our nation,” he stated.

The Silentworld Basis, the nonprofit analysis outfit that led the search with assist from the Australian authorities, notes on its web site that there isn’t a DNA database of the victims. However the group’s director, John Mullen, stated in an announcement that he hoped the invention would “convey closure to the various households devastated by this horrible catastrophe.”

Mr. Mullen instructed the Australian broadcaster ABC that the positioning wouldn’t be disturbed as a result of it’s a conflict grave.

The Montevideo Maru was a passenger vessel in-built Nagasaki, Japan, in 1926, based on the Australian authorities. Earlier than World Battle II broke out, an Osaka delivery line sailed it on a route from Japan to South America.

In the course of the conflict, the Japanese imperial fleet used the ship to maneuver provisions and folks, together with prisoners, by Southeast Asia. Shortly after 2 a.m. on July 1, 1942, because it traveled to Hainan Island carrying troops and civilians from Australia and different nations, it was torpedoed by the usS. Sturgeon and sank in as little as 11 minutes.

“Everyone was trapped within the holds down under in the course of the night time,” Mr. Mullen of Silentworld Basis instructed the ABC. “I can solely think about how horrendous it will need to have been. It’s past comprehension.”

The ship’s Japanese crew was ordered to desert ship, based on the Australian authorities, however the entire lifeboats capsized. Solely 17 of the 88 guards and crew survived the sinking and a subsequent march by a jungle within the Philippines.

There was no speedy assertion from the Japanese authorities on Saturday, and a cellphone name to its Overseas Ministry went unanswered. The US Navy didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting.