22 May 2007

Japanese midget submarine wreck located

Federal Environment Minister Turnbull has announced that the wreckage of M24, a "mini-submarine", as The Australian coyly describes it (the SMH and the ABC use the traditional term "midget"), has been located near Sydney.

Examination of the vessel, in about 54m of water 5km from Bungan Head, indicates it contains the remains of sub-lieutenant Katsuhisa Ban and petty officer Mamoru Ashibe - where they will remain, protected by a 500m exclusion zone, video surveillance and the threat of a $1.1 million fine.

Yesterday, navy divers took sand from the ocean floor to give to relatives of the submariners.

The M24 and two other mini-subs invaded Sydney Harbour on May 31, 1942. While the others were captured, and are now bolted together outside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the M24 evaded frantic searches.

Now that the authorities have located and protected the last resting place of the two Imperial Japanese Navy submariners will they proceed to search for the 645 Australian crew members who were lost with HMAS Sydney off WA in 1941?

As I said in a post earlier this month
there is still a lot of interest in their fate. In the last few days news of the discovery in the Atlantic of a 17th century shipwreck laden with treasure shows that with modern technology (and admittedly, substantial funding) this should not be an impossible task.

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